Ravens add DE backup F. Smith; Moon's agent says QB will choose his team by end of next week

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The Ravens yesterday signed Jacksonville reserve defensive end Fernando Smith to a one-year contract worth about $425,000, and the agent for veteran quarterback Warren Moon said he expects his client to make a decision on which team he will join by the end of next week.

Smith, 27, had 26 tackles last season, including two sacks. He spent four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings before joining the Jaguars last year. Smith, 6 feet 6 and 283 pounds, had his best season in 1996, when he had 9 1/2 sacks. He is expected to challenge Keith Washington as the top backup to starters Michael McCrary and Rob Burnett.

"He can be our rush end on third down, and he has the ability to rush the passer from inside," said Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president of player personnel. "He is capable of being the No. 3 end and will compete with Keith Washington."

As for Moon, 42, the Ravens have made him an offer to sign as Scott Mitchell's backup, but Moon has received a similar deal from the Kansas City Chiefs, according to his agent, Leigh Steinberg. Moon was in the running for the Seattle Seahawks' job earlier this week, but Seattle reportedly is interested in New York Jets quarterback Glenn Foley as its backup to Jon Kitna.

The Ravens may have a slight edge because Moon played several seasons for the Vikings when coach Brian Billick was Minnesota's offensive coordinator. If the Ravens don't sign Moon, they might possibly swing a deal for St. Louis Rams quarterback Tony Banks.

"Frankly, at this point, it's between Baltimore and Kansas City," Steinberg said. "Warren has been in contact with Billick on a pretty regular basis, and he'll probably make a decision by the end of next week. Warren has listened to what everyone has said, and as usual, he'll be patient and analytical before making his choice.

"Obviously, he knows and is comfortable with Brian's system. But for all of those yards he has thrown that will put him in the Hall of Fame, there is one thing that is missing and it's a ring on his finger. Playing for a team that has a chance to make the playoffs will also be a factor."

Newsome said he expects to resume talks with Steinberg and Moon on Monday. Newsome also might speak on Monday with agent Tony Agnone about New England's restricted free-agent tight end, Lovett Purnell. Mitchell is expected in town on the same day to take a physical and if he passes, the recent one-year, $3 million deal with the Ravens will be completed.

Pub Date: 3/20/99

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