Ravens show Carter faith, agreeing to one-year deal

Ex-Pro Bowl cornerback, 33, has troubled history

Pro Football

May 21, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Confident that Dale Carter's substance abuse problems will remain in the past, Ravens officials reached an agreement in principle on a one-year contract with the former Pro Bowl cornerback yesterday.

The Ravens were able to persuade Carter, a 12-year veteran, to sign with them over the Cleveland Browns by offering a chance to play a limited number of snaps for a Super Bowl contender.

In Carter, the Ravens get a four-time Pro Bowl player with the Kansas City Chiefs (1994-97) whose stellar career was curtailed after five violations of the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

Carter, 33, has been suspended twice by the league, the last of which spanned the first eight games of the 2002 season. He was also given a 1 1/2 -year suspension in April 2000.

"We are always concerned about anyone we are adding to the chemistry of this team," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "But Dale is a functioning member of the NFL. There were several teams that were interested in him. He has shown, the last year in particular, that he understands how he has to conduct himself.

"We are going to give him the opportunity to be a contributing member on this team both on and off the field, and if he embraces the opportunity, I think we'll be fine."

Carter was released in March by the New Orleans Saints, two years into a seven-year, $28 million deal. He finished last season on injured reserved with a damaged quadriceps, ending a largely disappointing stint that Saints general manager Mickey Loomis called a "calculated risk that didn't work out."

The risk is less great for the Ravens. Coaches expect Carter to play 25 snaps a game at best, possibly working as the dime (sixth) defensive back and spelling Corey Fuller as the nickel (fifth).

"We've had the opportunity to watch Dale on tape," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "We've had the opportunity to talk to people in New Orleans. ... So this is an opportunity for us to better our football team if he's good enough to make our football team."

NOTE: The team released linebackers Phil Smith and Cols Colas, along with receiver Robert Quiroga.

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