Agent: Sharper would consider return to Ravens

Ravens' interest unknown

Bengals among candidates

Pro Football

April 03, 2005|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

The agent for Jamie Sharper said he received five phone calls Friday night and three more by yesterday afternoon from teams interested in the veteran linebacker, but the Ravens were not one of them.

Tony Agnone said Sharper would strongly consider returning to the Ravens and the Baltimore area, where he still has a home, if the deal is right, but the Ravens' interest in a possible reunion is unknown.

The Ravens selected Sharper in the second round of the 1997 draft, and he went on to start all but one game in his five seasons with the team, posting a career-high six sacks in 2001.

Sharper, 30, was selected by the Houston Texans in the expansion draft after that season and cut for salary cap purposes Friday evening. He easily becomes the premier free agent in a barren market, and the Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, Seattle Seahawks and Cleveland Browns are expected to make a run at signing him.

Sharper, who would prefer to work with people he is familiar with, played under Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who was defensive coordinator with the Ravens, and Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio, who was the Ravens' linebackers coach.

The Ravens have a standing offer on the table for T.J. Slaughter, who is penciled in to be the starting weak-side linebacker, but Slaughter and his agent have yet to decide whether to take the deal. If Slaughter balks, that would leave the Ravens with a hole at outside linebacker, one that Sharper could easily fill.

Sharper, though, may be able to command a contract out of the Ravens' price range from other teams because of his consistent production - he has yet to miss a game in his career and has four straight 100-tackle seasons - and the ability to play both inside and outside. The Texans granted Sharper permission to seek a trade last month, but because of his $6.125 million salary cap number, no deal could be worked out.

Sharper played two years in the middle and last season on the weak side for the Texans, solidifying a defense with less talent around him than he had with the Ravens. Sharper, Ray Lewis and Peter Boulware rose to become what many considered the best linebacker corps in the league, giving the Ravens a menacing presence that intimidated opponents and helped produce the NFL's No. 2 defense for three straight years (1999 to 2001).

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