Agent for Stewart: QB is OK as backup

Veteran willing to help Boller's development

team will decide in June

Ravens

May 27, 2004|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

The agent for Kordell Stewart said yesterday the former Pro Bowl quarterback is ready to embrace a backup role with the Ravens as well as be a positive influence on second-year starter Kyle Boller.

Stewart, who was cut by the Chicago Bears in March, is the leading candidate to fill in for the injured Anthony Wright as the Ravens' No. 2 quarterback. The 10-year veteran has thrown for 14,746 yards in 123 career games and guided the Pittsburgh Steelers to AFC championship games in 1997 and 2001.

That added experience around Boller could help his growth process.

"Kordell is realistic about what the situation is and understands what that role would be," agent Leigh Steinberg said. "I think he would be an outstanding teacher as someone who has been in the league since 1995 and has a tremendous amount of football acumen. He would be someone who is positive, upbeat and accepting of the role that they give him."

The last time the Ravens added a veteran quarterback this late - signing Jeff Blake in late April 2002 - resulted in an awkward situation. Blake publicly refused to be a mentor to then-starter Chris Redman and wouldn't go out of his way to help him.

Ravens coach Brian Billick indicated he clearly defined the role to Stewart in a recent conversation and doesn't worry about disrupting chemistry if the team eventually signs him.

"I made it very clear to him what the circumstance was - almost too clear - so there was no ambiguity," Billick said. "It's not only Kyle is our starter but that we anticipate Anthony, when healthy, will take up the backup role."

Wright, who underwent surgery on his right shoulder Monday, is expected to miss at least the first six weeks of the regular season.

Ravens officials, however, aren't in a rush to find his replacement. They intend to wait and survey the free-agent quarterback market after the second round of cuts begin Tuesday before deciding on a backup.

Whomever the Ravens choose to pursue, they will be offering only a one-year deal worth the veteran minimum. When asked if that offer would preclude Stewart from signing, Steinberg declined to comment.

"He's excited about the Ravens, but we're on hold," Steinberg said. "They said they would get back to us in June."

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