Ravens will shop for discarded QB

March 02, 2006|By JAMISON HENSLEY | JAMISON HENSLEY,SUN REPORTER

Other teams' salary cap pains could be the Ravens' gain at quarterback.

Several middle-tier quarterbacks are expected to be cap casualties before free agency begins tomorrow, including Kerry Collins, who is considered the Ravens' top option.

With no extension of the collective bargaining agreement likely to be reached between team owners and the players union - which means a lower spending limit this season - the Oakland Raiders must dump an NFL-high $23.5 million to get under the cap. An obvious cost-saving cut would be Collins, whose release would give the Raiders about $9.2 million in cap room.

The Ravens didn't actively pursue Collins when he was a free agent two years ago because some team officials weren't sold on his ability. But that opinion apparently has changed under offensive coordinator Jim Fassel, who went to the Super Bowl after the 2000 season with Collins as his quarterback.

In two seasons as the Raiders' starter, Collins had a 7-21 record, completing 55 percent of his passes and throwing 41 touchdown passes and 32 interceptions.

Some alternatives could come from other cap-slashing teams such as the Miami Dolphins ($19.4 million over), Washington Redskins ($14.5 million) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($6.2 million). The Ravens have evaluated three possible cuts: the Buccaneers' Brian Griese, the Dolphins' Gus Frerotte and the Redskins' Patrick Ramsey.

As far as quarterbacks who will become unrestricted free agents, the Ravens have discussed two backups, the Cincinnati Bengals' Jon Kitna and the Carolina Panthers' Chris Weinke.

Ravens officials also are resigned to the fact that former Pro Bowl quarterback Daunte Culpepper won't be released by the Minnesota Vikings.

The Ravens have said they are looking for a veteran quarterback to start or provide competition for Kyle Boller. They are presumably looking at second-tier quarterbacks because they want to use a solid portion of their cap room to re-sign their own free agents.

The Ravens are one of the few teams not severely affected by the lack of a new CBA, which would give teams an additional $13 million in cap room. They are currently $14.4 million under the projected cap ($94.5 million), which is the ninth-best figure in the league.

"If you are asking me if we can be a player in free agency and retain some of our own players, then yes," general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "We are working under the assumption that there will be no agreement and we will have the conservative [salary cap] number."

Notes -- The Ravens have begun negotiations with running back Chester Taylor, agent Ken Sarnoff confirmed Tuesday. Taylor, the team's second-leading rusher, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent tomorrow, along with starting running back Jamal Lewis. "We have had preliminary discussions with the Ravens and they have expressed interest in keeping Chester," Sarnoff wrote in an e-mail. "However, numerous other teams have expressed to us that they will have interest in making Chester their feature back. The Ravens will be afforded every opportunity to re-sign Chester and keep him off of the free-agent market." ... The Ravens announced that tight end Daniel Wilcox signed a three-year contract. Wilcox, who led the team with 18 tackles on special teams, said he was surprised to receive the extension as a restricted free agent. "It made me really feel appreciated," Wilcox said. Wilcox also had 20 catches for 154 yards and one touchdown last season.

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

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