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Ravens seek other options for defense Chargers free agent Bush being pursued to fill linebacker spot; Thomas, Cowboys close; Newsome to interview others in next 2 weeks


In the Ravens' quest to strengthen their defensive front seven, the team has begun preliminary talks with free agent Lewis Bush as a possible option at outside linebacker.

Bush, 27, started all 16 games for the San Diego Chargers last year at strong-side linebacker, lining up over the tight end. Bush, 6 feet 2, 245 pounds, finished with 64 tackles, including 48 solos, sixth on the team. Bush has become an option for the Ravens, who will probably lose the bidding war to the Dallas Cowboys for outside linebacker Broderick Thomas.

Thomas spent four of the past five days in Baltimore with Ravens officials, and the sides almost struck a deal. But Dallas owner Jerry Jones intervened with a last-minute phone call to Thomas on Tuesday morning, then had his private jet fly in to usher Thomas back to Dallas later that evening.

"We hope that we can get it done," said Stephen Jones, the owner's son and Dallas' director of player personnel. "Obviously, we're working hard on it. He is a guy we'd like to have on our team."

Ravens vice president of player personnel Ozzie Newsome said he had two conversations yesterday with Eugene Parker, Thomas' agent, but wasn't encouraged.

"Quite frankly, we haven't gotten any closer to a deal," Newsome said.

In a possible preparation for Thomas re-signing with the Cowboys, Newsome contacted Bush's agent, Harold Lewis, )R yesterday, and Bush could visit the Ravens' complex next week when the assistant coaches return from scouting trips.

"We're now putting ourselves into position to explore other options," said Newsome, who will probably interview several more outside linebackers and safeties during the next two weeks.

The Chargers considered it a priority to re-sign Bush, but general manager Bobby Beathard is more concerned with signing running back/receiver Eric Metcalf. Bush reportedly made $361,000 last year and wants an increase to $1.5 million. The Chargers reportedly have offered $1 million.

Bush was recently on the verge of signing with the St, Louis Rams until the Rams signed outside linebacker Mike Jones, who played for the Oakland Raiders last season.

Newsome has listed signing a veteran safety and outside linebacker as his top priorities. The Ravens and Cowboys safety Brock Marion agreed to a four-year contract Tuesday night, and the Ravens also had interest in another safety from last year's Cowboys, George Teague, who signed a three-year deal with the Miami Dolphins yesterday that could be worth about $1 million a season with incentives.

"We never thought we were going to sign both George Teague and Brock Marion," said Newsome. "We thought we could get one, and we did. We're happy with the agreement."

Also yesterday, Newsome said he had talked with agents representing defensive end Anthony Pleasant and safety Stevon Moore, two Ravens who became free agents at the end of last season.

"They were good talks," Newsome said. "We're not close to any deals, but the conversations were constructive."

In another development, Ravens rookie reserve quarterback Scott Otis was back at the team's training complex in Owings Mills yesterday after a brief stay with the Amsterdam Admirals in the World Football League. Otis was allocated to the league by the Ravens and his agent, Tony Agnone, to get Otis professional playing time.

The Admirals coaching staff had other plans.

"Apparently, the head coach felt that allocated players didn't really want to be there, and he already had two quarterbacks who were going to get plenty of playing time," said Agnone. "We had Scott Mitchell in that league in 1992, and that's what the league is supposed to be about -- developing players for the NFL. What turned out to be a great idea has turned ridiculous."

Pub Date: 3/20/97

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