Baltimore Ravens Update - Monday

In the first move as de facto owner of the Baltimore Ravens, Steve Bisciotti is expected to introduce Washington lawyer Richard Cass as the team's new president to NFL executives this month.<br><br> Cass likely will inherit much of the same duties as outgoing president David Modell. The announcement won't become official until Bisciotti assumes total control of the team in April.

But this move is not the beginning of a major shakeup within the franchise. A minority owner for the past four seasons, Bisciotti wanted to ease into the job and have a smooth takeover.

This approach likely will be typical of Bisciotti, 43, who will become the league's second-youngest owner. Unlike the NFL's youngest owner - the Washington Redskins' Daniel Snyder - Bisciotti doesn't foresee himself being hands-on in day-to-day personnel matters.

He is quite aware of the meddlesome perception of new owners and already has shown a commitment to continuity.

To keep the foundation intact, Bisciotti oversaw contract extensions for general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach Brian Billick before this season. Newsome and Billick are signed through the 2006 and 2005 seasons, respectively.

"I credit both Steve Bisciotti and the Modells for making what could have been a difficult transition a virtually seamless one," Billick said. "We should be able to move along right on schedule."

Unlike the outspoken Art Modell, Bisciotti likely will keep a lower profile than his predecessor. But some team officials believe Bisciotti will eventually find a comfort zone as owner and will publicly voice his opinions on matters with the team and the league.

It's been an interesting ride for Bisciotti to get to the NFL. In 1982, Bisciotti started his company, Allegis (formerly Aerotek), in a basement office in Annapolis, Md., with two old desks and a carpet stuck together with duct tape. Allegis has grown into one of the nation's leading technical staffing firms.

But Bisciotti, who grew up as a Colts fan, never thought about becoming a professional sports owner until 1993.

"I can honestly say when Peter Angelos bought the Orioles - and I loved the Orioles growing up as much as I loved the Colts - that's when I was exposed to a local guy buying a team and I was envious of him," said Bisciotti. "When you're 35 years old, you're not thinking about being a professional ballplayer anymore."

NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES

--O.J. Brigance has been named Baltimore's director of player development. He was a key special teams player on the Ravens' Super Bowl team. The job became open when Earnest Byner left to join the Washington Redskins as a running backs coach.
--Although there was interest on both sides, John Fassel turned down an offer to become an offensive assistant with the Ravens and stayed the head coach for Division II New Mexico Highlands.

His father, Jim, was the New York Giants head coach for the past seven seasons and was hired as the Ravens' senior consultant last week.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Under the circumstances, this will probably work out better than most people think it will. Anytime you get an outsider's view of your system, someone who is familiar with the NFL and offense, I think it's worth doing. It's rare that you can get someone to come in like this as a consultant and have a good relationship with the coach and the coordinator." Offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh on the hiring of senior consultant Jim Fassel to the Ravens' coaching staff. Fassel was Cavanaugh's quarterbacks coach with the New York Giants in 1991.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL: There has been increasing speculation that the Ravens are the front-runners to sign Tampa Bay defensive tackle Warren Sapp when he becomes a free agent in March.

It would be a natural fit for the Pro Bowl performer to join the Ravens, whose star linebacker Ray Lewis was hard at recruiting his former Miami Hurricanes teammate in Hawaii. But despite being $24 million under the salary cap, Baltimore won't spend top dollar to get Sapp.

The Ravens most likely will let Sapp test the free-agent market to see his value before pursuing him.

The priority for the Ravens right now is trying to sign their own potential free agents before March.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: The Ravens are in talks with cornerback Chris McAlister and center Mike Flynn in attempts to sign them before free agency begins in March. Baltimore intends to name McAlister as its franchise player if no agreement can be reached before Feb. 24.

Since the Ravens are $24 million under the cap, they are not expected to release any player for cap reasons.

FEELING A DRAFT: For the first time in their eight-year existence, the Ravens don't have a first-round pick. They traded that draft choice to New England last year to move up and draft quarterback Kyle Boller.

With their first pick -- which is late in the second round -- the Ravens are looking at receiver, defensive line and the secondary.

MEDICAL WATCH: Linebacker Ray Lewis will have his right shoulder re-examined. The Pro Bowl linebacker wore a harness for the final month of the season. ... Cornerback Gary Baxter is scheduled for a Feb. 17 hernia scope.


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