There may be room for Coates at tight end


Attracted by the idea of putting a pair of former Pro Bowl tight ends on the field together, the Ravens invited free agent Ben Coates in for an exploratory meeting today, coach Brian Billick said.

The team also was attempting yesterday to line up a visit by free-agent defensive tackle Gilbert Brown.

Coates, who played nine seasons with the New England Patriots before being released in a salary cap move this off-season, had rejected an offer from the Tennessee Titans in late April and visited a number of teams, including the Washington Redskins.

Billick said Coates "presents the potential for a unique package, for us to have the ability in a given personnel grouping to have Shannon Sharpe and Ben Coates on either side of the ball. That would present a difficulty to any defense."

The Ravens signed Sharpe, another salary cap casualty, last February.

Billick described his interest level in Coates as "very high."

His interest in Brown, who played with the Green Bay Packers, would be to provide depth at defensive tackle behind Tony Siragusa.

Tagliabue on R. Lewis

Ray Lewis has suffered enough, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said in explaining why he did not suspend the All-Pro linebacker who pleaded guilty to obstructing justice in a murder case.

"It's the courts who have the primary responsibility in this case," Tagliabue said. "We're not a substitute for the courts."

Lewis pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstructing justice in a deal with Atlanta prosecutors, who dropped murder charges against the Ravens star.

Netgotiation updates

Billick met yesterday with punter Kyle Richardson, an unsigned, exclusive rights player, to explain the team's side of his ongoing contract negotiation.

Richardson's agent, Steve Weinberg, wants a multi-year contract for Richardson, but the Ravens are adamant on giving him a minimum, one-year deal for $358,000.

"It's hard for these guys to understand sometimes, particularly when they're not getting information from their agents that is accurate," Billick said.

Billick expressed a desire to retain Richardson, who set an NFL record with 39 punts inside the 20 last season, but said he was not handling negotiations.

Pat Moriarty, the Ravens' chief negotiator, was attempting yesterday to arrange another face-to-face meeting with Mitch Frankel, the agent for unsigned first-round pick Jamal Lewis. That meeting could happen as early as today.

Weinberg, who represents wide receiver Travis Taylor, the Ravens' other first-round choice, said he talked with Moriarty on Tuesday night seeking a clarification of the team's proposal.

Weinberg then discussed the proposal with his partner, agent David Canter, and Taylor yesterday.

"The conclusion we reached is while on structure we're very close, overall we're very far apart," Weinberg said. "We have to continue talking to see if we can bridge the gap."

Weinberg, who represents 12 rookies, said he has agreements for all except Taylor, the 10th pick in the draft.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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