Ravens hope Wright's re-signing comes to pass

QB would back up Boller

Redman's days here done

Pro Football

March 01, 2004|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Although their quarterback corps likely won't be complete until after the NFL draft in April, the Ravens expect to sign a backup to Kyle Boller - probably Anthony Wright - this month.

Barring any surprises, the team should be able to retain Wright, the one-time third-string quarterback who won five of his eight starts last season. Wright will be among 16 quarterbacks scheduled to become unrestricted free agents Wednesday (along with former Ravens third-round pick Chris Redman).

"We're optimistic that things can work out," said Joel Segal, Wright's agent. "We've had positive exchanges with the Ravens."

The Ravens are equally optimistic and say re-signing Wright is among their top priorities.

When asked if a deal could be reached before free agency began, Segal said, "We're taking one day at a time."

In helping the Ravens win their first division title, Wright connected on 52.8 percent of his passes for 1,199 yards in the regular season, with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions.

But the Ravens made it clear in February that they want Wright to return only as a backup after naming Boller as their starter. That announcement shouldn't preclude Wright from coming back, because he isn't expected to attract much attention in free agency.

The Sporting News recently tabbed Wright as the biggest risk of this year's free-agent quarterback class because he "still hasn't proved he can read defenses." Still, the Ravens consider Wright the best backup for their team.

"If we're fortunate enough to get Anthony re-signed - and I think we will - we feel very good about our quarterback situation," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "We do have some veteran presence now. You have to feel very good about what Anthony represents in terms of both youth [28 years old] and experience that we garnered last year."

Although free agency figures to bring the return of Wright, it means the end of Redman's days with the Ravens.

Redman lost the quarterback competition to Boller in training camp last year and struggled in his most extensive action of the season (7-for-12 for 58 yards and two interceptions in the second half at St. Louis). He was passed on the depth chart by Wright in Week 11 and didn't play the rest of the season.

Taken with the 75th pick overall in the 2000 draft, Redman never clicked in Billick's system.

Primarily on the bench for his first two seasons, he got his first chance at starting in 2002. He finished 3-3 (winning two of his last three starts) before a back injury sidelined him for the rest of the season.

Redman finished his three-year Ravens career by completing 53.5 percent of his throws for 1,111 yards, with seven touchdowns, five interceptions and a quarterback rating of 71.3.

"I have to share a certain amount of accountability as you do as a coach that it didn't turn out," Billick said. "There are certain circumstances that no one is responsible for. I'm very disappointed that we weren't able to help develop Chris at a level that allowed him to establish himself more readily as the starter. I take that very personally and wish it could have turned out different for Chris."

The Ravens' third quarterback probably will be a rookie, although Ray Lucas has expressed an interest in returning to the team. Lucas was signed for four weeks last year when Boller was injured.

But the Ravens are expected to use that third spot to develop a second-day draft choice or promising undrafted free agent. Although Billick likes that Boller and Wright's strengths are interchangeable, he said the third quarterback doesn't have to be a mobile quarterback.

"In a perfect world, [the third quarterback] would probably would be a rookie," Billick said.

QB free-agent class

Here are the 16 quarterbacks who will be available in free agency, which begins Wednesday:

Quarterback...2003 team

Jeff Blake...Arizona

Scott Covington...St. Louis

Jason Garrett...N.Y. Giants

Brian Griese...Miami

Damon Huard...New England

Doug Johnson...Atlanta

Rob Johnson...Oakland

Shaun King...Tampa Bay

Shane Matthews...Cincinnati

Rick Mirer...Oakland

Doug Pederson...Green Bay

Jonathan Quinn...Kansas City

Chris Redman...Ravens

Cory Sauter...Indianapolis

Billy Volek...Tennessee

Anthony Wright...Ravens

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