Ravens looking at Leftwich

The Baltimore Sun

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said yesterday that the team has had "a couple of small conversations" with Byron Leftwich's agent.

The Ravens are believed to be one of seven teams that have had preliminary talks with Leftwich, a four-year starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars who was cut Saturday after the team decided to go with David Garrard.

Like the other teams that have had conversations with Leftwich, the Ravens aren't expected to make a hard push for him, and they have yet to decide whether adding Leftwich would be a distraction for a team that has enjoyed a smooth preseason.

Even if the Ravens picked up Leftwich, he likely would come in as the No. 3 quarterback this season. He probably would have better opportunities to play if he went elsewhere.

It was only four years ago when the Ravens thought they had Leftwich. The Ravens completed a last-minute trade with the Minnesota Vikings to jump three spots to No. 7, where they could have drafted Leftwich. But, because they got a busy signal when trying to inform league headquarters, time expired before they could complete the deal.

Instead, the Jaguars took Leftwich with the seventh pick and the Ravens selected linebacker Terrell Suggs with the 10th. The Ravens later traded up for another first-round pick and used it to get quarterback Kyle Boller.

In the past, the Ravens have resisted showing interest in other available quarterbacks because they seemed set with Steve McNair as the starter and Boller as the backup.

But the future of the Ravens' quarterback position is uncertain.

McNair will turn 35 after the season, and Boller is in the final year of his contract (although the Ravens haven't ruled out re-signing him). The other quarterback on the Ravens' roster is Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith.

Leftwich, 27, could figure into the Ravens' plans down the road. He is looking for a fresh start after four rocky and injury-filled seasons with the Jaguars. Because of ankle and knee problems, he has hasn't played a full season in the NFL and missed 15 games the last two years.

He publicly clashed with Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio, questioning his decisions to the media. Del Rio said Leftwich lied to him several times about his health.

In 46 games, Leftwich has completed 58.7 percent of his passes for 9,042 yards. He has thrown 51 touchdowns and 36 interceptions for an 80.5 quarterback rating.

Last season, he missed 10 games because of an oft-injured left ankle. He then had an erratic preseason this year, completing 19 of 38 throws for 226 yards and a touchdown.

"At this point, we have had a couple of small conversations, but that's been the extent of it," Newsome said.


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