Ravens likely to sign L.J. Smith

March 18, 2009|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

Looking to upgrade their depth at tight end, the Ravens are expected to sign L.J. Smith today, a league source said.

The parameters of a one-year, $1.5 million deal are in place with Smith, the source added. Smith, 28, the best tight end left in free agency, needs to pass his physical with the Ravens today before signing the contract.

A six-year veteran from the Philadelphia Eagles, Smith would improve a thin tight end group for the Ravens.

The team, which did not re-sign Daniel Wilcox, has Todd Heap (35 receptions last season), Quinn Sypniewski (sidelined all season with a knee injury) and Edgar Jones (a converted linebacker).

There has been speculation the addition of Smith puts the future of Heap in doubt. But the Ravens are expected to keep Heap because they would save only $1 million by cutting him.

Like Heap, Smith has been a productive pass-catching tight end when healthy.

In 2005 and 2006, Smith averaged 55.5 catches and 646.5 receiving yards. He caught a total of eight touchdown passes.

In the past two injury-filled seasons, he averaged 29.5 catches and 267 receiving yards. He scored a combined four touchdowns.

Smith, who visited the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions this offseason, recently told Philadelphia reporters teams have expressed concern about his injury history.

He missed six games in 2007 with a sports hernia and was sidelined for two of the Eagles' final four games, including a playoff contest, in 2008 with a shoulder problem.

His agent did not return phone calls yesterday, and Smith couldn't be reached.

The Eagles, who paid $4.5 million to the tight end last season as the team's franchise player, did not made an effort to re-sign him.

Notes: : Orlando Pace, who was released last week by the St. Louis Rams, is expected to make a free-agent visit to the Ravens tonight, according to NBCSports.com. Pace, 33, is a seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle and was the first overall pick in the 1997 draft.

The Ravens officially released cornerback Samari Rolle yesterday, freeing $4.1 million in salary cap space.

The team will announce the signing of free-agent cornerback-returner Chris Carr today.

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti is scheduled to attend tomorrow's Ray Lewis news conference even though it will take place in the middle of the Maryland men's NCAA tournament first-round game against California. Bisciotti is one of the Terps' biggest supporters.

Free-agent wide receiver Terrance Copper, who played in two games for the Ravens last season, agreed on a contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Ravens linebackers Brendon Ayanbadejo and Jameel McClain will team up tomorrow with other NFL players and members of Congress in lobbying for the FIT (Fitness Integrated with Teaching) Kids Act, which would put a greater priority on physical education in schools.

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