Titans appear in no hurry to complete McNair pass

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

The Ravens have waited for Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair to get released since free agency began two months ago.

They might have to wait a little longer.

According to a league source, the Titans are prepared to hold onto McNair until a week before training camp begins in late July if they don't receive a satisfactory trade offer from the Ravens.

Ravens officials have acknowledged that a resolution could take weeks, but they privately don't expect Tennessee to keep McNair into July.

It is believed the Ravens offered a fifth-round pick for McNair on Sunday, but the talks ended when Tennessee wouldn't budge from its demand for a fourth-round choice.

The Titans, who have less than $500,000 in salary cap room, wouldn't need to free themselves of McNair's $23.46 million cap number until they had to sign their draft picks.

By holding onto McNair, the Titans can make a last-ditch effort to get him to restructure his contract as well as try to strong-arm a better offer from the Ravens, who would prefer to bring in McNair as soon as possible so he can learn the offensive system.

It seems the Titans have little hope of persuading McNair to stay since they gave him permission to speak to the Ravens on Sunday. Initial negotiations between the Ravens and McNair's agent have been very productive, a source said.

One possible reason the Ravens might increase their offer to a fourth-round pick is because another one could be coming from the NFL. After losing nose tackle Maake Kemoeatu, running back Chester Taylor and defensive end Tony Weaver in free agency, the Ravens figure to be in good position to receive at least one compensatory pick in the fourth round of next year's draft.

If McNair lands with the Ravens, he will be warmly welcomed by cornerback Samari Rolle, who played with McNair for seven seasons in Tennessee.

"I think he gives us leadership that we need. He's a competitor," Rolle said. "Everybody knows we definitely underachieved going 6-10 with the type of talent we've got. I don't think we can have a season like we had last year. Having him, it definitely won't happen again.

"In the players' minds, this would put us over the top."

By the Ravens attempting to add McNair, Rolle said the franchise is sending a message to the players.

"I think it lets you know that everyone around here is serious about winning," he said. "The time is now for us. We've got a veteran-laden team and we're not getting any younger."

Rolle predicts the Ravens would get an invigorated McNair after the Titans barred him from working out at their facility, fearing an injury would make them liable for his entire salary-cap number.

"Steve is going to come in with a chip on his shoulder because of the way things were handled in Tennessee," Rolle said. "I don't think any team wants to play us with Steve McNair playing with a chip on his shoulder."

Ravens receiver Derrick Mason, who also played with McNair in Tennessee, declined to comment through a spokesman for this article.

Rolle said he hasn't spoken with McNair recently but would be giving him a call to actively recruit him to the Ravens if he is released by the Titans.

"My fingers are crossed," Rolle said. "I've gotten excited just hearing about it the last few days. I think it would recharge the franchise and give us a fresh new beginning."

Notes -- The Ravens did add a quarterback yesterday, reaching an agreement with Drew Olson, who went undrafted out of UCLA. Last season, he set a school record with 34 touchdowns and threw just six interceptions. Olson, who finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting, led the Bruins to a 10-2 record including four fourth-quarter double-digit comebacks. The Ravens had contemplated taking him in the later rounds of the draft. ... The Cleveland Browns used the sixth-round pick acquired from the Ravens on Stanford nose tackle Babatunde Oshinowo, who was projected by some to go in the second round. The Ravens gave up that pick to swap places in the first round with the Browns and draft Oregon nose tackle Haloti Ngata.

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

Grading the Ravens' draft

Most of the national media gave the Ravens good marks for their draft:

Media ..................... Grade ........................................ ......Comment

Mel Kiper ................... B+ ........................................ Ravens did good job of

........................................ .....................................addressing needs effectively.

CBS Sportsline .......... A ................................. Eric DeCosta picks up where

........................................ .................................................... Phil Savage left off.

USA Today ............. 3 stars ......................................... Nothing sexy but Ray

........................................ ............................................. Lewis might agree with

........................................ ........................................................choice of Ngata.

Sporting News .......... A- ........................................Typical Ravens' draft as

........................................ ............................................ they get multiple starters.

Fox Sports .................. B- ...................................... Another solid draft and

........................................ ........................................ much of it based on need.

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