Full circle for Ravens' Foxworth

OWINGS MILLS -- As cornerback Domonique Foxworth approached the Baltimore Ravens' training complex before signing a four-year, $27.2 million contract that includes $16.5 million in guaranteed money, he quickly realized he was retracing the steps of his life.

Foxworth's path to officially joining the Ravens at the launch of the free agent signing period included bypassing other key stages along the way: driving past the University of Maryland as well as nearby Western Tech in Catonsville, his elementary school located a few blocks away from team headquarters and even the field where he played middle school football.

It was a case of an athlete coming full circle in returning home as his proud parents, older brother, grandmother and a girlfriend who's a Harvard law student were seated in the front row of an introductory press conference.

"I've dreamed of playing here," Foxworth said. "When the Ravens got here, automatically we gravitated to them, just like most of the city has because they are a hard-nosed, blue-collar team just like this city is. To finally be able to come back and be a part of it is great. It's just a good feeling this morning to go down my Maryland football history and be able to make the last stop with the Ravens."

Sporting a purple tie and a grey suit, the 25-year-old former Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos defensive back signed with the Ravens and immediately became projected to start opposite Fabian Washington.

Although Foxworth is relatively small at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, the Ravens like his package of speed, character and intelligence. He also came into his own last season in a career-high 10 starts in Atlanta after leaving Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey's shadow behind him following a trade to the Falcons for a seventh-round draft pick.

"He's a top-flight corner, a corner in the Ravens mold, a corner that can cover someone all over the field, but not just that," coach John Harbaugh said. "He's physical, he's hard-nosed. He's smart, he plays extremely hard and he's willing to tackle. Plus, he's a high-character person and he's from right around the corner. So, there's no downside."

Foxworth's arrival may ultimately trigger the departure of starting cornerback Samari Rolle, a 32-year-old who has been plagued with injuries and is due a $4.1 million base salary this year. The Ravens have requested that he accept a pay cut and Rolle has refused, so team officials have been exploring possible trades. If no deal can be reached, it's likely Rolle would be released.

Adding Foxworth follows the Ravens recently cutting ties with former Pro Bowl cornerback Chris McAlister, which saved $8 million against the salary cap.

"You can look at it as Domonique has replaced Chris," general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "The coaches have talked about 'have as many corners as you can.' I think they all find their way on the field at some point."

Drafted in the third round after being named All-Atlantic Coast Conference for the Terps, Foxworth hasn't always seen a ton of playing time in the NFL.

In 60 career games, he has just 28 starts with four career interceptions. Last year, he recorded 39 tackles with one interception.

The Ravens view him as an ascending player.

"The things that are attractive to me about Domonique is that he's athletic," Newsome said. "He has unbelievable playing speed and he can play the ball down the field. In our division, we've got Chad [Johnson], we've got Braylon Edwards, we've got Santonio Holmes and Limas Sweed and, oh yeah, Hines Ward. So, our ability to put pressure on the quarterback, but also to be able to cover those guys, we feel like it's a premium."

Foxworth was somewhat surprised that the Ravens were a legitimate possibility.

"Once you hear Ravens, it's, 'Stop right there, Baltimore is an option?'" Foxworth said. "They get bumped to the top of the list. Anything that I can do to make it happen, you sacrifice some of the other things that are important to you because being close to home is obviously of premium importance in my thinking."

Seated next to Foxworth, Newsome laughed before delivering this crack: "I wish I'd have known that yesterday."

At Western Tech, Foxworth flashed versatility and talent as a running back, safety, kick returner and cornerback who set school records for rushing and interceptions and received a personal recruiting visit from Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen. At College Park, he registered 124 career tackles, eight interceptions and four fumble recoveries.

Now, Foxworth is at home and hoping to thrive with his third NFL employer. He said he doesn't feel stressed by any additional pressure to perform.

"There's no added pressure," Foxworth said. "The people who I care about watching my games and coming to my games all along, I'd always hoped that people that I'd known in Maryland might keep track of me and stay on top of it, so now it just makes it easier for them to see how I'm doing. Nobody can put any more pressure on me than I can."

The Ravens were glad to add a player who's active in the community with children literacy programs and is one of the youngest members ever to be named to the NFL Players Association executive board.

"When we started talking about Domonique and started researching him, we found out he's a high-character person," Harbaugh said. "He's a man of integrity. That's our foundation, and that's a big part of what he brings to the table."

NOTES: Ravens free agent strong safety Jim Leonhard is scheduled to visit the New York Jets today. ... The Ravens cut backup defensive end Marques Douglas. "We have not eliminated the opportunity to go back to him and try to bring him back," Newsome said. ... The Ravens used a $1.545 million second-round tender on restricted free agent punter Sam Koch, a player the team would like to sign to a long-term deal. ... The Ravens assigned a low tender of $1.01 million to strong safety Dawan Landry, wide receiver Demetrius Williams and tight end Quinn Sypniewski. .... The Ravens signed cornerback Derrick Martin to a one-year, veteran minimum deal after not extending him a qualifying restricted tender. ... The Ravens opted to not make qualifying offers to running back P.J. Daniels, cornerback Evan Oglesby, linebacker Robert McCune, wide receiver Marcus Maxwell and tight end Scott Kuhn.

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