Ravens unlikely to be June shoppers

OWINGS MILLS – The bonanza of NFL past is on at least a temporary hiatus. Because teams have grown more adept at managing the salary cap throughout the fiscal year, June 1 is a date that has faded in prominence on the league calendar. The list of players released by their clubs for financial reasons used to carry a high profile. Not this year.

And the Baltimore Ravens are unlikely to harvest a thin pool of talent to become officially available on the waiver wire by June 2.

"As a league, we're doing a better job of getting players to renegotiate their contracts, and I think the agents and players are getting a little smarter in knowing that they can probably get better value by staying with the team rather than getting released out there in June," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "It's not the market that it has been maybe two or three years ago when it was a really good market. It won't be as good a market this year."

Among the names often mentioned as potential June 1 cuts: Broncos quarterback Brian Griese, 49ers receiver J.J. Stokes, Chiefs cornerback Ray Crockett, Rams safety Kim Herring, Bengals quarterback Akili Smith, Vikings wide receiver Derrick Alexander, Cardinals running back Thomas Jones, Giants offensive lineman Dusty Zeigler, Saints defensive tackle Grady Jackson, Eagles receiver Freddie Mitchell and Denver running back Terrell Davis.

Plus, there are still unrestricted free agents already on the market like quarterback Neil O'Donnell, safety Kwamie Lassiter and wideout Antonio Freeman.

"We have a working knowledge of the league and if someone becomes available we can get him evaluated and I can have the agent on the phone within a day," Newsome said. "There are some names out there, but there are also going to be two or three mystery guys out there, I think. If there's still a player we think can upgrade our football team, we would go after it, but I don't think we're looking for any particular position."

When the Ravens open passing camp Monday, the list of quarterbacks will remain: incumbent starter Chris Redman, who's coming off back surgery, first-round pick Kyle Boller, former Dallas starter Anthony Wright and rookie free agent Grant Noel.

Barring injury, Newsome said the Ravens aren't inclined to sign a veteran backup at this point.

"It's too valuable with the reps that Chris and Kyle are getting," Newsome said. "Plus, Anthony Wright is improving everyday."

Newsome said the Ravens will address defensive end Michael McCrary's status next week. That probably means McCrary will retire due to his knee problems, which would give the Ravens some cap relief.

However, Baltimore is already reportedly $4.88 million underneath the league limit of $75 million.

"Well, it will give us additional cap room but we don't need it," Newsome said. "We're in real good cap shape and we'll be even better next year."

Bottom line: Don't expect Baltimore to chase what looks to be a limited market in a period once described as the second wave of free agency.

"If somebody becomes available who can become a starter on the offensive line, we would look at it," Newsome said. "Right now, it's hard to conceive of somebody that good becoming available."

NOTES: Newsome said the club will resume negotiations with franchise player Chris McAlister after July 16. There's a penalty of losing the right to assign the franchise tag for the length of a player's new deal if an extension was reached prior to that date. McAlister hasn't signed his one-year tender of $5.962 million, the average of the top five cornerback salaries. … Restricted free agents Adalius Thomas and Anthony Mitchell are expected to sign their one-year tender offers by the middle of next month. … The Ravens are likely to continue their trend of signing their draft picks in late July.

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