Trade fills corner need

Fourth-round pick dealt to Raiders for F. Washington

Ravens notebook

April 28, 2008|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Sun reporter

The Ravens addressed their need at cornerback yesterday, but it didn't come in the draft.

Instead, the Ravens traded a fourth-round pick to the Oakland Raiders for Fabian Washington.

A first-round pick in 2005, Washington was expendable after the Raiders had traded for DeAngelo Hall.

In three seasons with Oakland, Washington had 112 tackles and five interceptions. He was a starter his first two seasons before losing his job early last year.

Even if Washington is unable to crack the Ravens' starting lineup, he will be a valuable nickel back, especially because so many AFC North teams use three receivers.

"Guys know about our defense," general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "Their play gets elevated when they come to Baltimore. They realize they have to take their play to another level."

The Ravens chose not to take their top-rated cornerback with the No. 8 pick Saturday, trading back in the first round. They were looking at South Florida's Mike Jenkins in the second round, but he was picked by the Dallas Cowboys in the bottom of the first round.

So the Ravens decided to make a deal with the Raiders instead of taking a cornerback on Day 2 of the draft. Washington is under contract through 2009, earning salaries of $750,000 this season and $1.515 million next season.

"In the draft we didn't feel like there was any other player that was comparable to Fabian," Newsome said.

Washington comes to the Ravens with baggage. He learned last week that he would avoid prosecution for his February arrest on a domestic battery charge as long as he completes a program for first-time offenders.

Washington, 24, was arrested at his home in East Manatee County, Fla., after the responding police officer noticed a red mark on the neck of Washington's 21-year-old live-in girlfriend.

Washington, who had pleaded not guilty to the charge, said the altercation didn't get physical.

"Based on the information we have at this point and what he's undergoing, I don't think there will be any league discipline at this point," said Newsome, who spoke to Washington about the incident yesterday. "But that's for the league to make that determination."

No. 52? Already taken

When linebacker Tavares Gooden suits up for his first practice, the third-round pick will have to get used to a new number.

"The only thing I told him, he couldn't have No. 52 when he gets here because that belongs to someone else," Newsome said.

Gooden played at the University of Miami, the same school as Ray Lewis. He also wore No. 52, Lewis' number with the Ravens.

But team officials said Gooden will earn his own reputation.

"We love good, fast and aggressive linebackers in Baltimore," said Eric DeCosta, the Ravens' director of college scouting. "We know when we see one."

No tight end taken

The one position that the Ravens failed to address in the draft was tight end.

It's an area of need because Todd Heap and Daniel Wilcox are coming off injury-marred seasons. It is believed Quinn Sypniewski, the team's third tight end, suffered a knee injury in the last minicamp.

"We still don't know the extent of Quinn's injury," Newsome said.

The Ravens had planned to draft a tight end, but none of the players they targeted was available when it was their turn to pick. Newsome said the team is trying to sign a couple of undrafted free-agent tight ends and might look in free agency.

Fox hires Billick

Former Ravens coach Brian Billick will join Fox as an NFL game analyst, the network announced yesterday.

Billick will call eight games as part of a two-man team with a partner to be determined. He also will join another pairing as the third man in the booth on "select Sundays," Fox said.

It's possible he could do two Ravens games - against the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 23 and against the Washington Redskins on Dec. 7.

Billick, the Ravens' coach from 1999 through 2007, is coming off a weekend of serving as a studio analyst for the NFL Network's coverage of the draft.

End zone

Newsome said he still has not heard from Jonathan Ogden about his future plans. The 11-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle has been leaning toward retirement all offseason and had intended on announcing his decision before the draft. "Right now, if J.O. decides to come back, that's his option," Newsome said. "If he decides to retire and be in Canton five years from now, he can do that, too. That's J.O.'s decision and it hasn't impacted our entire offseason." ... Notre Dame safety Tom Zbikowski, a third-round pick, has boxed professionally, a fact that was noticed by coach John Harbaugh. "Maybe he can be my bodyguard," Harbaugh joked on ESPN.

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Ray Frager contributed to this article.

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