Ravens mulling cornerback, guard options

OWINGS MILLS -- After a verbal agreement with Gary Baxter unraveled and he signed with an AFC North rival, the Baltimore Ravens still need a starting cornerback.

Kelly Herndon, come on down.

The Denver Broncos' restricted free agent cornerback could soon receive an offer sheet from the Ravens.

The Ravens had hoped to retain Baxter before a misunderstanding in negotiations led to him joining the Cleveland Browns for a six-year, $30 million deal that included a $10.5 million signing bonus.

Because of Herndon's restricted status, the Broncos have the right of first refusal and could match any offer from Baltimore to keep him. Because he's an undrafted player, signing Herndon wouldn't entail draft-pick compensation to Denver.

Baxter agreed verbally to a contract Wednesday night, but the situation broke down Thursday when he learned that his signing bonus was $7 million rather than the $11 million he had expected to receive.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome met with Baxter at a local McDonald's on Friday in a last-ditch attempt to talk Baxter out of flying to Cleveland. Baxter had been scheduled to sign his contract Friday morning with an afternoon news conference tentatively planned, but he changed his mind and contacted Browns general manager Phil Savage, the former Ravens' director of player personnel.

"Everything that's being reported is not 100 percent accurate or true," Baxter said Saturday at a press conference. "I feel like the best thing to do for both sides is just move on and take it for what it is.

"There's always two sides to a story, but it's not about that right now. It's about me being a Cleveland Brown and about me being excited playing for the Dawg Pound."

A second-round pick in 2001, Baxter had repeatedly said all week that he would give Baltimore every chance to re-sign him and was even willing to accept less money.

"This was a stressful process," Baxter said. "Thursday night I tossed and turned. I paced the house. I prayed. When it's in your heart, it's in your heart. I prayed about it and this is where it is."

Herndon started the majority of last season in place of an injured Lenny Walls. He recorded 69 tackles with two interceptions and three forced fumbles.

The younger brother of NFL wide receiver Kevin Dyson, Andre Dyson, 25, intercepted six passes last season and could be a prime option for Baltimore.

Samari Rolle, an expensive free agent, is on the verge of joining the Kansas City Chiefs according to coach Dick Vermeil barring medical issues. The Washington Redskins have a standing offer of a $10 million bonus for cornerback Fred Smoot, one of the best available free agents.

NOTES: Linebacker Ed Hartwell finished visiting Arizona and said no deal is imminent with the Cardinals or Chiefs. Hartwell indicated that the possibility of returning to the Ravens is a shut door.

"With them switching to the 4-3, I think pretty much they only need one Mike linebacker," Hartwell said. "My goal is to be the greatest linebacker to play in this game. I am not shy about saying that." ...

The Ravens spoke Saturday with the agent for offensive guard Rick DeMulling, but no visit is pending.

"We had a chat this morning, but there's no visit set up yet," said agent Ken Staninger, adding that DeMulling will visit the Buffalo Bills today and the Detroit Lions on Tuesday.

Aaron Wilson is the chief writer for RavensInsider.Com He is also the Ravens' reporter for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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