Ravens weeky wrap-up

The Ravens reacquired safety Gerome Sapp by sending a conditional 2007 draft pick to the Indianapolis Colts. Sapp, a sixth-round pick by the Ravens in 2003, is expected to compete for the starting free safety job as well as provide an impact on special teams.

The Ravens waived Sapp after the 2004 season opener, a move not fully endorsed by the entire organization. Sapp later said the Ravens intended to cut cornerback Corey Fuller, but Fuller talked the coaches out of it by reminding them how he got Deion Sanders to sign with the team.

Sapp has since become a solid special teams performer for the Colts while Fuller played sparingly the rest of the 2004 season, his last in the NFL.

"We looked at it as an opportunity to upgrade our football team," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said of the trade.

--A day after Derrick Mason limped off the field to end spring minicamps, the Ravens confirmed their leading receiver will be ready for training camp at the end of next month.

Mason bruised his ankle while diving to make a touchdown catch Thursday and was later treated with ice. The injury was considered so minor that the Ravens didn't send Mason for X-rays.

In his first season with the Ravens, Mason led the team last season with 86 receptions, which set a Ravens' single-season record.

He has not missed a game since 2002, making 58 straight starts.

--The Baltimore Ravens announced that they have released quarterback Sonny Cumbie, linebackers Zac Woodfin and Ricky Foley, and defensive back Zach Norton.

--Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and receiver Demetrius Williams had private workouts after the Ravens' spring workouts ended. They couldn't attend the past practices because of an NFL rule that limits a player to one minicamp with his pro team while his school is still in session.

NOTES, QUOTES

The Ravens made their biggest offseason move of the year -- and perhaps franchise history -- when they traded a fourth-round draft pick to the Tennessee Titans for quarterback Steve McNair.

Even he isn't the same caliber of player that shared the NFL Most Valuable Player award in 2003, McNair is still a major upgrade over the Ravens' quarterbacks of the past. He brings a strong arm and will that has been nonexistent since the Ravens relocated to Baltimore in 1996.

McNair has directed Tennessee's passing attack to four top 10 rankings in five seasons. The Ravens have failed to crack the top 20 the past four years.

He also brings much-needed stability. Since McNair took over as the Titans' full-time starter in 1997, the Ravens have gone through 13 starting quarterbacks including 10 in the Billick era (1999 to present).

The other major addition came through the draft when the Ravens selected defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.

Unable to re-sign Maake Kemoeatu in free agency, the Ravens needed to fill a sizable void in the middle of the defense and satisfy linebacker Ray Lewis. Leading up to the draft, Lewis said the Ravens lacked the big defensive tackles that allowed him to be a dominant player.

When he dominated at Oregon, Ngata showed flashes of rare agility, range and strength. In his last 23 games played (which followed a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in 2003), he totaled 107 tackles, 6.5 sacks and 17.5 stops for losses. His seven blocked kicks were a school record.

The Ravens failed to address the loss of free safety Will Demps as aggressively. Demps, an often overlooked starter for the past four seasons, signed with the New York Giants in free agency. After the Ravens completed their spring workouts, there is still a question at Demps' spot.

The Ravens waited until the fifth round to draft a safety, selecting Georgia Tech's Dawan Landry. He will compete with Jamaine Winborne, B.J. Ward and Robb Butler for the lone uncertain starting spot on the Ravens' defense. The Ravens could sign a veteran safety who is released before or during training camp.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I've got a great tight end here. I am very excited. He's a guy who has proven himself over and over again how he is one of the elite tight ends that's going to play the game." -- Quarterback Steve McNair on tight end Todd Heap.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
With the acquisition of quarterback Steve McNair, the Ravens' only hole is at free safety.
Look for the Ravens to add a veteran there if one becomes available either before or during training camp. The Ravens are hoping either Gerome Sapp or Dawan Landry, a fifth-round pick, can step up if the team is unable to add another safety.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers): CB Dale Carter; LS Drew Caylor; DT Gary Gibson; WR Patrick Johnson; CB Cash Mouton; RB Jamel White.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: DT Cedric Hilliard.
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: CB Robb Butler; PK Aaron Elling; NT Aubrayo Franklin; LB Dennis Haley; DE Jarret Johnson; LS Matt Katula; RB Jamal Lewis; FB Ovie Mughelli; CB Zach Norton; CB Evan Oglesby; OT Tony Pashos; OG Brian Rimpf; QB Brian St. Pierre; RB B.J. Sams; LB Bart Scott; LB Mike Smith; RB Musa Smith; C Thatcher Szalay; DE Benard Thomas; CB B.J. Ward; TE Daniel Wilcox; LB Zac Woodfin.
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: RB Mike Anderson; P Leo Araguz; DT Justin Bannan; CB Corey Ivy; LB Tim Johnson; QB Steve McNair; DE Trevor Pryce; S Gerome Sapp; LB Gary Stills.
PLAYERS LOST: LB Peter Boulware; OT Orlando Brown; S Will Demps; TE Darnell Dinkins; WR Randy Hymes; NT Maake Kemoeatu; LB Tommy Polley; CB Deion Sanders; RB Chester Taylor; DE Tony Weaver; S Chad Williams; QB Anthony Wright; P Dave Zastudil.
 


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