Baltimore Ravens

Josh Wilson one of many Ravens free agents waiting for end to lockout

The NFL players' leadership is expected to recommend the labor deal Monday, which would move the league one step closer to ending the lockout.

According to an ESPN report, the league and the players have reached an agreement on the remaining issues in a 10-year collective bargaining agreement. The report said the players are planning a major news conference Monday.

Josh Wilson, though, will believe it when he sees it. There's been too many times recently when the Ravens cornerback thought the sides were close, only to deal with disappointment again.

"I called my agent and asked him what's going on," Wilson said. "I told him not to call me back until we're playing football."

If Wilson sounds frustrated, he has every right to be. He represents one of the groups most affected by the lockout — the unrestricted free agents.

In previous years, he would have known in early March where he would be playing, living and reporting to training camp. Nearly five months removed from the NFL's usual free-agent period, the biggest business decision in his career will come at perhaps the most chaotic time in recent league history.

It's believed that free agency will begin Saturday, the same day training camps open. The rush will be on for teams to sign their own free agents, other teams' free agents, draft picks and undrafted rookies.

Free agency was typically the time for players fly across the country to visit multiple franchises and weigh offers. This year, as long-time agent Leigh Steinberg said, it's "football's version of speed dating" as teams will feel the pressure to fill rosters and holes in the starting lineup.

"It's going to be crazy, but it's going to be crazy for both sides," Wilson said. "Both sides are getting the short end of the sticks for the fact they don't have the same time period to get to know you. They have to go with what they know. As a team, I would assume you don't want to go too far from your comfort level."

Wilson, who is one of 14 unrestricted free agents on the Ravens and among 400 unrestricted free agents in the league, has an advantage over the other players. He went through the same transition a year ago.

On Sept. 1, two weeks before the regular-season opener, he was traded from Seattle after practice and was on a flight to join the Ravens the next day.

"A lot of [free agents] might not be successful this first year because they're not used to having to deal with doing this stuff so fast," Wilson said. "Fortunately for me, I'm a year ahead of everyone."

Wilson, 26, was ranked No. 50 among this year's free agents and was named the most underrated player on the Ravens by CBS Sports' web site. His speed and ability to play man coverage will attract teams in free agency.

The former Maryland standout broke up a career-best 15 passes and scored the game-winning touchdown in Houston by returning an interception in overtime.

It's unknown how Wilson would fit on the Ravens after the team drafted Jimmy Smith in the first round to go along with Domonique Foxworth and Lardarius Webb. Some believe the Ravens need another veteran cornerback and could have to choose between Wilson and Chris Carr.

"Being with the Ravens would be the best-case scenario," Wilson said. "But this is a business. A lot of times, you have to make business decisions. I have to see where I'm wanted. The most important thing is you go where you're wanted and you have an opportunity to play and be successful."

End zone: Ravens safety Ed Reed has publicly criticized the blind-side blocking tactics of Hines Ward for years. Reed revealed last week that he's even criticized the Pittsburgh wide receiver to his face. "I love Hines as a player and I told him that," Reed said last week at his football camp. "But I told him also for a long time, 'You're a dirty player because I know how you play.'" … All minimum salary levels in the NFL have gone up $55,000 from 2010. That means a first-year player will earn $375,000 this season.


Marc Bulger, QB; Prescott Burgess, LB; Chris Carr, CB; Chris Chester, OL; Jared Gaither, OT; Kevin Houser, LS; T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR; Dawan Landry; S; Le'Ron McClain, FB; Tony Moll, OL; Donte' Stallworth, WR; Fabian Washington, CB; Josh Wilson; CB; Marshal Yanda, OL