Fassel is near finalizing deal with Ravens

Former Giants head coach could join staff today after meeting Billick, Bisciotti

Unclear job title may cause delay

Expected advisory role is seen as big boost to Ravens' lagging offense

February 04, 2004|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Jim Fassel could join the Ravens' coaching staff as early as today, league sources said.

The Ravens are prepared to hire the former New York Giants head coach today, but working out the logistics with the NFL over his unconventional job title may hold off the official announcement for a couple of days. League sources confirmed that Fassel will travel today to Baltimore, where he is expected to meet with Ravens coach Brian Billick and soon-to-be sole owner Steve Bisciotti.

Fassel, 54, may be named a senior adviser or consultant while performing the duties of an assistant head coach. It is believed Fassel does not want to lower his status for future head coaching vacancies by accepting a position as offensive coordinator or quarterbacks coach next season.

The addition of Fassel would represent an upgrade for the Ravens' often-criticized offense and a milestone in NFL coaching circles. It would mark the first time in NFL history that two Super Bowl head coaches (Billick and Fassel) would serve on the same staff.

When asked about Fassel yesterday, Billick declined to comment. He did confirm interest in bringing in Fassel last week, saying, "Obviously, if we can find the right parameters for him to join us, his credentials speak for themselves."

Fassel's role likely will have him be an adviser to offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh and quarterbacks-receivers coach David Shaw, as well as a sounding board for Billick. He will have input as the Ravens re-evaluate an offense that has ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in four of the past five seasons.

Offense has been the strength of Fassel. In his last four seasons with New York, the Giants ranked 13th, ninth, sixth and 20th in total offense.

Fassel was fired last season when the Giants lost their last eight games and finished 4-12. He directed New York to the playoffs in three of his seven seasons and a trip to the 2001 Super Bowl where the Giants lost to the Ravens.

Since he is still under contract to the Giants, New York would be required to pay the balance of the $2.7 million remaining on Fassel's final year, minus what the Ravens offer. Finalizing these details shouldn't be a problem since Bisciotti and outgoing Ravens owner Art Modell have a friendly relationship with Giants owner Wellington Mara.

The close relationship between Billick and Fassel also figured in this deal. Billick considers Fassel one of his best friends in the coaching ranks and one of the top offensive minds in the game.

Fassel built his reputation on developing such quarterbacks as John Elway and Kerry Collins as well as reviving the career of Boomer Esiason. His expertise should influence the learning curves for what should be one of the youngest quarterback groups in the NFL again. The Ravens will bring back Kyle Boller, a first-round pick in 2003, and will look to re-sign Anthony Wright.

The hiring of Fassel is viewed as a temporary arrangement. He is expected to be a strong contender for next year's head coaching vacancies after being considered this offseason by the Washington Redskins, Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo Bills.

Sun staff writer Ken Murray contributed to this article.

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