Ravens hold off grabbing QB so far

Source: Team might wait until after draft to try to get McNair

March 18, 2006|By JAMISON HENSLEY | JAMISON HENSLEY,SUN REPORTER

While many NFL teams made a decision at quarterback this week, the Ravens have to make up their mind on theirs: Either wait another month for Steve McNair or begin to pursue Kerry Collins and Brian Griese.

According to a league source, the Ravens have discussed the possibility of not adding a veteran quarterback until after the NFL draft, which is the earliest the Tennessee Titans would consider cutting McNair.

Unlike Collins or Griese - who would compete against Kyle Boller in training camp - McNair would likely be the undisputed starter if he joined the Ravens.

If the Ravens choose to wait on McNair's uncertain status, they run the risk of losing out on two quarterbacks who are immediately available, Collins and Griese.

Collins, whose preference appears to be the Ravens, might grow tired of an extended delay and start to look elsewhere. Griese has already begun to take visits and could sign as early as next week.

There is not a clear consensus within the Ravens on either Collins or Griese, the source said.

"With the timetable we have set, we will come away with a veteran quarterback," general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "We're looking for the right match who can come in and fit our needs."

There's no guarantee that the Titans will cut McNair, 33, a two-time Pro Bowl performer and the NFL co-Most Valuable Player in 2003.

Tennessee might want to keep McNair and backup Billy Volek around as veteran insurance or mentors even if it drafts a quarterback with the third overall pick in the draft April 29. But the Titans could decide they are set with Volek and a rookie quarterback, which would allow them to free up McNair's hefty $23.46 million salary cap number.

In the meantime, an average crop of available quarterbacks has thinned out this week. Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints), Daunte Culpepper (Miami Dolphins), Jon Kitna (Detroit Lions), Patrick Ramsey (New York Jets), Jeff Garcia (Philadelphia Eagles), Gus Frerotte (St. Louis Rams), Josh McCown (Detroit), Todd Collins (Washington Redskins) and Chris Weinke (re-signed with Carolina Panthers) all reached agreements without drawing much interest from the Ravens.

The best of the quarterbacks left are Collins, Griese, Jamie Martin and Aaron Brooks. Those who could remain after the draft include: Jay Fiedler, Ty Detmer, Jim Miller and maybe Joey Harrington.

David Dunn, the agent for Collins, did not return phone calls yesterday. Ralph Cindrich, the agent for Griese, confirmed visits to Cincinnati and Chicago.

"There's no doubt that the Tampa Bay situation is a good one, but there are a lot of other good ones out there," Cindrich said. "Cincinnati has a legitimate starter [Carson Palmer], but who knows when he'll be back? Chicago has the makings of a very nice team, and there has been a lot of change at that position over the years."

Notes -- The Ravens officially announced the release of linebacker Peter Boulware and offensive tackle Orlando Brown. "One of the toughest aspects of my job is to look at Orlando Brown and call Peter Boulware and tell them we are going to terminate their contract," Newsome said. " ... It's not an easy decision. They have given their blood, sweat and tears for this organization." ... Two restricted free agents, defensive end Jarret Johnson and running back Musa Smith, signed one-year contracts. ... Tight end Darnell Dinkins left the Ravens to join the Cleveland Browns. Dinkins agreed in principle on a three-year contract worth $2.1 million, including a $200,000 signing bonus. jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

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