Ravens have multiple decisions for free agency

OWINGS MILLS — The business side of the NFL is about to intersect with several members of the Baltimore Ravens.<br><br> General manager Ozzie Newsome has decisions to make on a number of unrestricted free agents, including seven starters in linebacker Ed Hartwell, cornerback Gary Baxter, receiver Travis Taylor, defensive end Marques Douglas, center Casey Rabach, guard Bennie Anderson and fullback Alan Ricard.

Newsome identified Baxter as a major priority after inking cornerback Chris McAlister to a $55 million contract.

"I can't worry about something I can't control," Baxter said. "I would love to be here, and I see myself in purple and black for the rest of my career, but there's a football aspect and a business side.

"For the most part, I know the Ravens will do what they need to do to keep me here."

Baxter has started at cornerback for most of the last two seasons, and isn't inclined to move back to safety.

"I'm going to be honest with you about that: cornerback is what I'm feeling right now and I'm getting used to it," Baxter said. "Me and my agent have strongly let the Ravens known and people know that's where I want to be at."

Hartwell ranks second on the team behind All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis with 130 tackles. Over the last three seasons, he has registered 461 tackles, second only to Lewis on the Ravens.

Will the Ravens continue to stockpile talent and devote a high portion of their budget to their linebacking corps?

"Baltimore is a great place, I love my teammates, fans and community, but that's the nature of the business," Hartwell said. "You do what's best for yourself and let the chips fall where they may."

When asked about playing in the shadows of Pro Bowl linebackers such as Lewis, Peter Boulware and Terrell Suggs, Hartwell scoffed.

"Playing in shadows?" he said. "I'm playing Ed Hartwell football. I'm going to hit you and I'm going to make you pay."

As for Taylor, he has been hampered with injuries this season and has been limited to 34 catches for 421 yards and no touchdowns. He has struggled with his hands again, failing to fulfill the promise of being the 10th overall pick in 2000 out of the University of Florida.

He was deactivated last week despite being healthy enough to play.

"That won't affect my decision at all," he said. "I love Baltimore, my kids are in school here. If I could stay healthy, that's the biggest thing."

LINE SHUFFLE: Because left guard Edwin Mulitalo tore his left triceps, will undergo surgery today and is out for Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins (4-11), the Ravens have moved center Casey Rabach into his place.

Mike Flynn will start at center, and Bennie Anderson will remain at right guard.

"I feel good that the coaches have enough confidence in me to move me around, that I'm versatile enough," Rabach said. "I've got a couple of days to lock things down fundamentally. Schematically, I know what to do. It's just the technique."

Ravens coach Brian Billick said Mulitalo is expected to make a full recovery by minicamps.

TRAINING ROOM: Running back Jamal Lewis (ankle), linebacker Ray Lewis (broken wrist), tight end Todd Heap (ankle), nickel back Deion Sanders (foot), linebacker Bart Scott (knee), tackle Orlando Brown (knee) and defensive tackle Maake Kemoeatu (calf) are listed as questionable. All except Brown, Kemoeatu and Scott missed portions of team drills.

Rabach (thigh) and defensive end Tony Weaver (back) are probable.

QUICK HITS: The Dolphins are 3-3 under interim coach Jim Bates, who will give way to LSU coach Nick Saban next week. … Under Bates, the Dolphins have been tied or led in the fourth quarter in each of his games. … Flynn donated a snowplow to Baltimore on Wednesday.


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