Billick: Boller not anointed as starting QB

OWINGS MILLS -- If Kyle Boller was expecting fast assurances that he will remain the Baltimore Ravens' starting quarterback next season, then he'll be disappointed. Ravens coach Brian Billick indicated Tuesday that the embattled former first-round draft pick can expect competition and won't simply be handed the job again.

"It would not be fair to the process, this team, the organization and really the fans for the ease of simply sitting here and anointing Kyle Boller as the starter going forward," Billick said. "That's not what we're going to do. … It is not in our best interest at this point to sit here and anoint Kyle Boller as the starter."

The Ravens' options at quarterback are unclear, but it's evident that the team will pursue a viable veteran capable of challenging or unseating Boller. Backup Anthony Wright is a free agent and isn't expected to be back.

Depending on availability, the Ravens could look at everyone from Oakland's Kerry Collins to Cincinnati's Jon Kitna, Tennessee's Steve McNair, Atlanta's Matt Schaub or San Diego's Philip Rivers.

It's clear that the oft-maligned Boller will no longer be a rubber stamp in the lineup card after passing for 1,799 yards, 11 touchdowns and 12 interceptions for a 71.8 quarterback rating. Boller went 4-5 as a starter in his third season, missing half the season with a toe injury.

"Competition is good," Billick said. "What our options are really won't be known until March 3, and it will change repeatedly.

"In every phase, we are going to look for competition and to better ourselves, specifically at the quarterback position. We'll evaluate, given the proper amount of time, exactly how far Kyle Boller has come, where is now, what we can reasonable project from him going forward."

Plus, the Ravens have a major decision to make at running back as both Jamal Lewis and Chester Taylor are unrestricted free agents.

Lewis could be retained with the franchise tag in February, which would likely include a hefty price tag of around $6.3 million following a career-low 906 yards.

"I've had several exchanges with Jamal and Jamal's agent, in as much as [Monday]," general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "Those things will work themselves out."

With middle linebacker Ray Lewis remaining in Florida after hamstring surgery amidst speculation that he is isolated and unhappy with a contract that will pay him $5.5 million next season, Newsome emphasized that he has a good relationship with the two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

"I value what Ray Lewis brings to this organization, and I think he respects me and the job that I have to do," Newsome said. "If Ray feels like over the course of the next six months that he needs to talk to someone, he will call me and we will have an audience just like we did last year."

Billick noted that 25 to 30 percent of the team will likely turn over with 15 unrestricted free agents and seven restricted free agents.

"I know that we need to improve our roster," owner Steve Bisciotti said.

Newsome stressed his belief that the team's window to win isn't closed quite yet, saying the team is in the third or fourth year of a five or six-year window that began in 2002.

"At any point with the permission of Steve, we can extend it because of ways of redoing contracts," Newsome said. "As we found out, anytime we want to extend that window all we do is extend our ability to get back to being whole again."
 

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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