Ravens exploring Boston option

OWINGS MILLS – Gaining closure to the case involving argumentative All-Pro wide receiver Terrell Owens has become an elusive pursuit for the Baltimore Ravens.<br><br> Now, Owens' arbitration hearing to try to nullify his trade to the Ravens has been rescheduled for Monday in Philadelphia before NFL special master Stephen B. Burbank. It was originally slated for this weekend via conference call, and a decision is expected to be forthcoming Tuesday.<br>

As a contingency plan if the players' union wins its case against the league, the Ravens have expressed a renewed interest in talented, troubled San Diego Chargers wide receiver David Boston. Boston is on the trading block after a turmoil-filled season in San Diego, and the Miami Dolphins are the apparent leaders for his services.

"We'll continue to explore all of our options," Ravens coach Brian Billick said Friday in acknowledging an interest in Boston, who caught 70 passes last season. "Given the fact that this Terrell Owens situation doesn't have a resolution, we'll continue to explore it. 

"The fact that they're shopping [Boston] around, we'll have to consider that fact. Our interest in him last year was well-documented. It's something we'll consider and continue."

The hearing for Owens to attempt to gain free-agent status after being traded from the San Francisco 49ers for the Ravens' second-round draft pick will include lawyers representing the league and players' union.

Billick said the Ravens will not have any council present, but have already transmitted information to the league regarding their involvement in the deal through team executive Richard Cass. Billick said this delay doesn't affect the team's outlook on the situation. 

"All that's changed is the time frame," Billick said. "We'll wait it out. If it takes even longer, there's not much we can do. It is what it is."

Any decision by Burbank is subject to review by U.S. District Judge Dave Doty.

Burbank cut short a family vacation in Malibu Beach, Calif., to hear the case of a player whom the NFL management council has already ruled wasn't a free agent because his agent, Dave Joseph, missed a Feb. 21 deadline to void the remainder of his 49ers contract.

The 49ers declined a reported offer of a fifth-round draft pick and receiver James Thrash from the Philadelphia Eagles. Owens has said he prefers to play for Philadelphia, whom his agent negotiated a deal that would include a signing bonus of $10 million and an annual salary in excess of $6 million.

Consummating a trade with the imposing Boston could be complicated since he signed a seven-year, $45 million pact with the Chargers last winter. Regarded as an enigmatic, aloof player, Boston is also due a $1 million roster bonus on Monday. Boston has a significant history of off-field problems and conducted a noisy feud last year with the Chargers' strength coach.

Meanwhile, the Ravens continue to say that Owens is welcome in their locker room despite his noisy protests of the trade. The AFC North champions ranked first in rushing and last in passing last season.

"Of course, I want to establish a rapport," said backup quarterback Anthony Wright, who re-signed with Baltimore on Friday. "He's the kind of player who can come to this team and be the difference. We can't wait for him to get here. 

"Whenever he comes, we're going to accept him as family and go on from there. He's a heckuva player, a playmaker. That's what we need."

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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