Ravens trade for CB Washington

OWINGS MILLS -- In the Baltimore Ravens' estimation, speedy Oakland Raiders reserve cornerback Fabian Washington was superior to any incoming rookie at his position during the second day of the NFL draft. So, the Ravens traded a fourth-round draft pick (125th overall) to Oakland for Washington in order to alleviate a pressing need in the secondary.

He could eventually push Samari Rolle for a starting job and will be strong candidate to be the nickel back.

The Ravens narrowly missed out on cornerbacks Mike Jenkins and Brandon Flowers during the first two rounds.

"Hopefully, he will come in and compete," general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "I think that's what makes our team as good as it is. In our division, they throw three wide receivers at you in a hurry."

Although Washington was the fastest player at the 2005 NFL scouting combine with a 4.29 time in the 40-yard dash prior to being picked in the first round with the 23rd overall pick, he lost his starting job to Stanford Routt after the third game last season and became even more expendable with the offseason trade for Pro Bowl cornerback DeAngelo Hall.

"We have been talking with the Raiders about Fabian Washington even before they made the trade for DeAngelo Hall," Newsome said. "He's very excited. The thing is guys know about our defense and their play gets elevated when they come to Baltimore. They realize that they have to take their play to another level.

"That's how he felt on the phone. That allows us to have a veteran player who has started games in the NFL, brings more depth to our secondary, an area where we felt like in the draft we didn't think there was any other player favorable to Fabian."

Washington, 24, arrives with some off-field baggage, though.

He was arrested in February for domestic battery in an incident involving his 21-year-old girlfriend. Last week, he found out that he would be allowed to avoid prosecution if he completes a 26-week intervention program for first-time offenders and stays out of trouble.

Washington, 24, was arrested at his home in East Manatee County, Fla., after a responding police officer noticed a red mark on the neck of his girlfriend.

"I observed slight red marks on the victim's neck," the arresting officer wrote in the report after responding to her 911 call.

Washington pleaded not guilty to the charge, denying that the altercation became physical. His girlfriend later said that she didn't want him prosecuted.

"As far as the domestic charge, I spoke to him today about that," Newsome said. "Based on the information that we have at this point and what he's undergoing, I don't think at this point there can be any league discipline, but that's not for me to say. That's for the league to make that determination."

There's still a pending paternity lawsuit to determine if Washington is the father of his girlfriend's infant daughter.

Washington has had his issues on the field, too.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder reportedly lost confidence after being burnt repeatedly by Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson in December 2006. In three wide receiver sets last season, quarterbacks repeatedly went after Washington.

The upside with Washington is his rare speed and the fact that he'll be coached by Chuck Pagano, his secondary coach in Oakland. He's also under contract through 2009 with base salaries of $750,000 this season and $1.515 million next year.

Washington, who has 112 career tackles, 24 pass deflections and five interceptions, has to report to Baltimore to take his physical in the next few days.

The Ravens have been high on Washington ever since his days as a three-time All-Big 12 selection at Nebraska and considered trading back for him if they had been unable to pick Oklahoma wide receiver Mark Clayton.

"If Mark would have gotten picked that year, we already had some trades set to move back," Newsome said. "Fabian would have been one of the players we would have targeted."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.


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