Billick is apprehensive about whether the Browns would be actually willing to trade Northcutt to a division rival regardless of what the terms would entail.
Plus, the Ravens' status as the original Cleveland Browns franchise that moved to Maryland after a rancorous stadium dispute with local officials could affect the situation.
The Browns could have concerns from a public relations standpoint if trading Northcutt came back to haunt them twice a season. "If they indeed have given him an opportunity to seek a trade, we certainly would be interested," Billick said. "Cleveland trading to Baltimore, although not inconceivable, is probably limited. I would think they would hesitate before they would do that. "You typically don't do that. Now, New England traded Drew Bledsoe to Buffalo. Your best deal is your best deal."
Northcutt, 26, has reportedly been authorized by the Browns to seek a trade with any team. The former second-round draft pick from Arizona caught 62 passes for 729 yards last season and has excelled as a return specialist. The Browns have also authorized quarterback Tim Couch to look for a trading partner. However, they have limited his agent, Tom Condon, only to teams outside the AFC North.
Northcutt's agent, Jerome Stanley, expressed hope in an interview Wednesday with the Washington Post that the Browns would be willing to trade his client to Baltimore if a sufficiently high enough offer was submitted. "I think everyone should operate in their best interest," Stanley said. "If they have something of value to trade, it should get done." Billick reiterated that Baltimore has the necessary salary-cap room and draft picks to make a tempting offer to Browns executive Carmen Policy. "I think we could make ourselves as viable as anybody, but I don't know that we could make ourselves viable enough to make them trade a guy in the division," Billick said. "I think the player would like to be here."
The Ravens' trade for All-Pro wide receiver Terrell Owens was nullified through a settlement that sent Owens to Philadelphia and gave Baltimore back the second-round draft pick it traded to the San Francisco 49ers for Owens and the Philadelphia Eagles' fifth-round draft pick.
If a deal can't be worked out for Northcutt, the Ravens will likely concentrate on choosing from a draft thick in receiver prospects and poring over the post-draft free agent market. "My guess is we'll address it both ways because someone is going to become available that will be attractive to us," Billick said. "The draft is a receiver-rich draft and we'll try to find one. My guess is this is something we won't be able to address until the draft."
Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.