The Ravens began entertaining preliminary discussions yesterday about trading down from the No. 5 overall position in the NFL draft tomorrow, but at the same time began firming up their draft board in preparation to make the selection.
Both New York teams, the Jets and Giants, as well as the Green Bay Packers showed the most interest while the Ravens also talked with the Philadelphia Eagles. Ozzie Newsome, the team's vice president of player personnel, and coach Brian Billick said they expected trade discussions to intensify tonight and into tomorrow morning. A deal might happen while the Ravens are on the clock deciding on the fifth pick.
"The closer we get to the draft, the more valuable the pick becomes," said Newsome, who will meet with owner Art Modell this afternoon to complete draft plans.
There have been reports about the Ravens, who also have the No. 10 overall pick, getting offers from the Jets (Nos. 12 and 13, and two other first-rounders) and Packers (No. 14) of first-, second- and fifth-round picks to move up to the No. 5 position. But Newsome said no offers were made yesterday.
"We're prepared to make the pick at five," said Billick. "There is a certain value at five, certain people we like. We'll listen to offers, but they better be a lot better than what we're listening to right now. As we get closer, I imagine it will be. I don't know if anybody has gotten real serious yet.
"It's a simple equation," said Billick. "We have a certain couple of players we value at five. Depending on what someone has to offer, we can attach a player, not just a number, a person to the other first-round pick they are going to offer. When we can attach a name, then we can determine if this player is worth two or three players. Then we can make the decision, otherwise you're just trading numbers. We have our board firm enough right now that when someone wants to be serious about making those offers, then we can make those comparisons."
The Ravens would like to select Tennessee running back Jamal Lewis and/or receivers Travis Taylor of Florida or Jackson State's Sylvester Morris. They believe those players will be available if the Ravens stay within the top 18.
So why not stay in their current positions where they are guaranteed two of those players?
"If somebody wants to offer the right combination, the blockbuster deal, then it makes us a stronger football team," said Billick.
Preparations for picking at No. 5 has made for an interesting debate at the team's Owings Mills training camp. Florida State defensive tackle Corey Simon is generally rated the No. 5 player in the draft. The Ravens have a potential holdout in defensive tackle Tony Siragusa, and fellow starting defensive tackle Larry Webster has been suspended indefinitely pending an appeal for violation of the league's substance and alcohol abuse policy.
Do the Ravens draft Simon on a defense that was ranked No. 2 in the league last year or go for need with a Taylor or Lewis?
According to a team source, Billick and team president David Modell prefer an offensive selection. The source also said that Simon had not rated that much higher than some of the offensive players the team likes in the draft.
Seattle Seahawks unrestricted free-agent defensive tackle Sam Adams is also a factor. The sixth-year veteran is expected to take a physical today and meet with the front office staff. According to a league source, Adams has been offered a one-year contract worth $500,000 by the Denver Broncos and a $1.1 million, one-year contract from the Packers.
Newsome said the Ravens might come to an agreement with Adams before tomorrow morning. Adams is expected to visit Green Bay tomorrow.
"We'll entertain that," said Newsome, who along with owner Art Modell and Billick has cooled on the idea of the team trading a first-round pick for Cincinnati running back Corey Dillon. "If he likes us and we like him, we will try to get it done."