Ravens make offers to Brown, Salaam

First tackle that accepts will be signed

deal could happen by end of week

Pro Football

March 11, 2004|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

On standby with receiver Terrell Owens for a week, the Ravens have engaged in another waiting game of sorts.

Ravens officials said they have offers on the table to offensive tackles Orlando Brown and Ephraim Salaam and will sign whichever free agent accepts a deal first.

Brown, who was out of football for three years with an eye injury, started the final 10 games last year at right tackle. Salaam, a salary cap casualty from the Denver Broncos, met with Ravens coaches Tuesday.

"We'd like to have Orlando back and we liked what we saw in Salaam," Ravens coach Brian Billick said of his prospective starting right tackles. "So when one wants to take advantage of the opportunity, we'll move forward. You don't want to be the one left without a chair when the music stops."

A deal could be reached by the end of this week. The agents for both players did not return phone calls yesterday.

Based on the Ravens' history, their offer to Brown includes a $4 million signing bonus over four years. That's the amount given on long-term deals with linemen Edwin Mulitalo and Mike Flynn.

Brown, 33, reportedly has drawn interest from Oakland, Miami and Pittsburgh. The Ravens and the Raiders are considered the front-runners, but the Ravens may have the edge because Brown's family lives in the area.

A big factor in the Ravens' top-ranked rushing attack, Brown was a mauler, showing a mean streak that hurt him at times. His late personal foul played a role in the playoff loss to Tennessee and his shouting match with offensive line coach Jim Colletto after a loss at Miami raised concerns.

But Brown's quick temper won't preclude his return.

"Our heads bumped a couple of times but he understood I thought a lot of him and the effort he gives and the temperament he brings," Colletto said. "I'm venturing a guess but I think there was a trust factor. I have no complaints about him. After we got settled on the right course, it worked out real smooth."

Salaam, 27, is weighing offers from the Ravens and Chicago Bears.

He is a six-year starter with the Broncos and the Atlanta Falcons who is known for his discipline. As the left tackle with Denver last year, he had one false start and committed no holding penalties.

Denver running back Clinton Portis averaged 4.5 yards per carry and scored five touchdowns running to the left side.

"With the offensive system he comes out of, he'd fit right into our running game," Colletto said. "Obviously, he's a guy who might fit the bill depending on what Orlando does."

Being 65 pounds lighter than Brown, Salaam would present a different profile at right tackle.

"Salaam is a little more athletic and Zeus [Brown] is more powerful," Billick said. "It won't change what we do but what we expect out of that tackle."

Besides right tackle, the Ravens could address the backup quarterback position by week's end. The team remains confident of re-signing Anthony Wright, and his agent is scheduled to talk to Ravens officials over the next couple of days.

As far as defensive end, the Ravens are taking a less active approach. They have shown interest in free agent Warren Sapp, but have not begun negotiations.

"There's really not a lot out there," Billick said of the market for defensive ends. "We're very much in the mode of let's see what shows up and what the market is."

Tale of the tape

The Ravens have offers on the table to free-agent offensive tackles Orlando Brown and Ephraim Salaam and will sign whoever takes the deal first. A look at how the tackles stack up (with statistics from last season):

Category Brown Salaam

Age 33 27

Height 6-7 6-7

Weight 360 295

Games/starts 16-13 14-14

Penalties-yds. 10-66 4-40

False starts 7 1

Holding 2 0

Sacks 8.5 4.5

Source: STATS Inc.

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