Ravens wary on Culpepper

Health concerns cool interest in QB who wants out of Minnesota

pro football


Although Daunte Culpepper told the Minnesota Vikings to trade him or release him yesterday, it remains uncertain whether the Ravens will pursue the two-time Pro Bowl quarterback.

It is believed the Ravens have concerns about Culpepper's health, which could limit him next season. The Ravens are hesitant about investing money in a free agent or a draft pick in a trade for a player who might not be ready for the season opener.

Plus, some Ravens officials aren't convinced that the Vikings will let go of Culpepper.

It appears the only way the Ravens would go after Culpepper is if it involved a low-risk deal, which meant an incentive-laden contract that included little guaranteed money.

Culpepper, 29, is rehabilitating from a knee injury that forced him to miss nine games last season. He is one year removed from a Most Valuable Player-caliber season in which he threw for 4,717 yards and 39 touchdowns.

Ravens officials are shopping for a veteran quarterback this offseason but said they have not given up on Kyle Boller. If the Ravens ultimately decide to acquire Culpepper, he would be the unquestioned starter over Boller.

In an e-mail to reporters yesterday, Culpepper did not mention any teams he would consider joining but made it clear he wanted out of Minnesota.

"If a trade does not happen then I am asking the Vikings to terminate my contract as soon as possible," Culpepper said.

Meanwhile, the Ravens are set to see 15 players from last year's team become unrestricted free agents tomorrow. That list includes six starters (running back Jamal Lewis, defensive end Tony Weaver, nose tackle Maake Kemoeatu, linebackers Bart Scott and Tommy Polley and safety Will Demps) and punter Dave Zastudil.

Even though the Ravens have had plenty of time to try to retain them, the lack of a collective bargaining agreement extension had been a roadblock. Now that an agreement has been reached between owners and the players union, it will mean a $7.5 million increase in the salary cap, which would boost the contracts for free agents.

"The agents are absolutely shut down right now," coach Brian Billick said while the owners were still considering the players union's proposal. "Nobody wants to do anything. This is the most inactive prior to free agency time that I've ever been around. Until we definitively get a deal, the agents seem to be very hesitant to get into a dialogue."

Billick, however, knew that could change in a hurry.

"If a deal gets done, it's going to be an explosion of activity," he said.


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