Rolle released, Smith deal being discussed

The Baltimore Ravens are close to finalizing a one-year, $1.5 million agreement in principle with Philadelphia Eagles unrestricted free agent tight end L.J. Smith, a pending transaction that should provide the offense with proven insurance behind former Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap.

Named the Eagles' franchise player prior to last season, Smith caught 37 passes for 298 yards and three touchdowns in a dozen starts. The 28-year-old is scheduled to be at the Ravens' training complex Wednesday to meet with team officials and take a physical.

No contract has been signed yet.

The 6-foot-3, 258-pound former Rutgers standout has ties to Ravens coach John Harbaugh from Harbaugh's tenure on the Eagles' staff.

The Ravens could use additional depth behind Heap, who's believed to be in the team's plans for next season. Heap is due a $3.6 million base salary in 2009 and has a $6.09 million salary-cap figure.

Cutting Heap would free up just $1.06 million against the salary cap. He restructured his contract a year ago, lowering his salary-cap figure for 2008 by $1.7025 million.

The Ravens return rugged blocking tight end Quinn Sypniewski, but he's coming off a major knee injury that kept him out all of last season.

Baltimore also has retained exclusive-rights free agent Edgar Jones, a converted linebacker who split time between tight end and defense last season.

As for Smith, he's definitely experienced. Entering his seventh NFL season, Smith has caught 231 career passes for 2,525 yards and 18 touchdowns.

He has been plagued by nagging injuries, though, starting just 21 of the Eagles' past 32 regular-season contests with only nine starts and 22 receptions for 236 yards and one touchdown in 2007.

In 2006, Smith caught 50 passes for 611 yards and five touchdowns. In 2005, he registered a career-high 61 receptions for 682 yards and three touchdowns.

Smith had been under consideration from the Detroit Lions and the Atlanta Falcons, but the Falcons recently bowed out.

NOTES: The Ravens are poised to announce today that they've acquired former Tennessee Titans reserve cornerback and return man Chris Carr, who ranked fourth in the NFL in kickoff returns with a 28.1 average last season.

Carr arrived in Baltimore on Monday to take a physical and finalize the paperwork of his two-year, $5 million contract. ...

The Ravens officially terminated veteran cornerback Samari Rolle's contract, cutting ties Tuesday with a former Pro Bowl defensive back at his request and creating $4.1 million in savings against the salary-cap. That figure is nearly the equivalent of the combined salary-cap impact of adding Carr and Smith. ...

Ravens linebackers Brendon Ayanbadejo and Jameel McClain are scheduled to participate in a lobbying effort for the FIT Kids Act, which is intended to increase physical education in schools.

The effort to pass the initiative includes players from the Washington Redskins and the Atlanta Falcons as well as members of Congress, the American Heart Association and the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.

A press conference is set for today at the Capital in Washington, D.C.

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

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