Ravens yet to pursue Owens

Team likely interested in 49er if price is right

Flynn agrees to 5-year deal

Source: Ravens near deal to bring back O. Brown

March 02, 2004|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

The Ravens have made strides in securing their offensive line yet apparently remain in a holding pattern at addressing the receiver position.

As the team announced it had reached an agreement in principle with center Mike Flynn on a five-year contract yesterday, a league source indicated the Ravens have yet to enter into discussions with the San Francisco 49ers involving a trade for Terrell Owens.

The four-time Pro Bowl receiver has said he is interested in playing for the Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons. The Ravens, who are in need of a top-notch receiver to improve the league's worst passing attack, would be equally interested in acquiring Owens at the right asking price.

If the 49ers were agreeable to dealing Owens for a second-round pick in this year's draft, the Ravens would be hard-pressed to pass on such a trade. But it appears the Ravens would only be willing to give up draft picks to obtain the All-Pro receiver or any other player.

Team officials denied reports that they have offered inside linebacker Ed Hartwell along with a second- or third-round pick to the 49ers.

"You never rule it out, but I can't imagine any trade we would have in the future would involve a player," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "It probably would have more to do with draft choices."

Owens, who caught 80 passes for 1,102 yards and nine touchdowns, was scheduled to be one of the hot commodities during free agency. But his agent apparently missed a deadline to file the necessary paperwork for Owens to become a free agent, and he remains under contract with the 49ers for the next three seasons.

There is little chance that San Francisco will keep the disgruntled receiver, which means Owens could be had for a discounted price. Now, a team can obtain him without having to dole out a huge signing bonus.

Owens, 30, is scheduled to make $17.7 million in base salaries over the final three years of his contract, receiving $5.3 million this year, $5.9 million in 2005 and $6.5 million in 2006.

The Ravens and Eagles, both of whom are more than $16 million under the salary cap, could handle his salary this season. Although Owens would demand a bigger deal, his new team would have all of the leverage since he is under contract.

NFL trades cannot be officially completed until tomorrow, the start of the free-agency period.

"We're not going to comment on trade talks," Billick said. "I hope no one tries to read between these lines."

Whether it's Owens or not, the Ravens will be seeking a receiver in free agency.

Team officials have said they are interested in bringing back Marcus Robinson, the Ravens' most productive receiver in the second half of the season. But the return of Robinson may have become tougher since Owens and the Browns' Dennis Northcutt are now out of the free-agent market.

When asked if the absence of those players creates a bigger demand for Robinson, his agent, Ken Sarnoff, said, "That would certainly be a true statement. I think teams are going to wait to see how the T.O. situation resolves itself and we'll go from there. I think he will set a tone."

Still, the Ravens need to find a receiver to upgrade a group that includes Travis Taylor, Frank Sanders, Randy Hymes, Ron Johnson and Javin Hunter.

"If it turned out that Marcus did not return to us, we have contingency plans," Billick said. "But it's hard for me to imagine the draft would adequately address our needs at the receiver position in the short term."

There are fewer concerns about the offensive line.

With the Ravens agreeing to terms with Flynn, a league source indicated that the team is nearing a deal with offensive tackle Orlando Brown. If the Ravens re-sign Brown, they would bring back the entire starting offensive line that paved the way for the NFL's top rushing attack.

"Team-wise, we know we have a good thing going on the line," Flynn said. "We are a pretty cohesive unit and we can improve. I won't say that we will rush for another 2,000 yards, but I definitely think we can be a better line."

Flynn, 29, is one of the durable cogs on the line and is considered the emotional leader of that group. A one-time practice squad player, he has emerged as a four-year starter and has missed only one start over that stretch.

Financial terms of the deal were not revealed since the sides are still working out the final details of the contract.

NOTE: The Ravens officially announced the hiring of O.J. Brigance as their director of player programs. Brigance, a special teams standout on the Ravens' Super Bowl team in 2000, will oversee all player development programs and work closely with players in assisting them with each phase of their careers. "O.J. was a leader and a true professional as a player for us," general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "He'll be the same as a Ravens executive."

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