Blake's agent waiting to hear from Ravens

OWINGS MILLS – The Baltimore Ravens' stance regarding veteran quarterback Jeff Blake hasn't changed. It's a waiting game, and Blake's agent, remains eager to hear from the Ravens. Contract negotiations with Blake, an unrestricted free agent, haven't begun yet. "I'm anxious to speak with them," said Ralph Cindrich, Blake's Pittsburgh-based representative. "It's still real early in the process and we're waiting for things to develop. That's not unusual. Most teams are this way."

"I can tell you this: Jeff definitely wants to be back there in Baltimore."

In a news conference Wednesday addressing the state of the team, it became clear that the Ravens are leaning toward bringing Blake back. Nothing is imminent, though.

"We have not had any contract negotiations with anybody," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "We have had some initial talks, but nothing of any substance. That is going to take place within the next month with some key people. We are nowhere and we are just getting started with the process."

The picture at quarterback is clouded by Chris Redman's impending back surgery, and Blake's uneven performances in 10 starts. Redman is scheduled to have surgery to alleviate back pain stemming from a partially herniated disc that limits his flexibility and circulation.

"There are a lot of variables," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "I will say this: I have a great deal of confidence in Jeff Blake's ability to win for this club, as I do with a Chris Redman. But between now and March 2 or 3, whenever free agency is, there are still a lot of unanswered questions.

"Chris Redman's physical condition. Jeff Blake has to, with his representation, look and decide what his focus is going to be. Are there other opportunities? Does he want to come back here? It's not, at this point, to our competitive advantage to outline to you specifically what our plans are right now."

Blake went 4-6 as a starter, passing for 2,084 yards with 55.9 percent accuracy while throwing 13 touchdowns along with 11 interceptions. His quarterback rating was a 77.3, and he fumbled eight times. Blake was sacked 30 times, but he managed to rush for 106 yards and a touchdown.

Redman was 3-3 as a starter, passing for 1,034 yards on 53.3 percent accuracy with seven touchdowns and three interceptions. His quarterback rating was 76.1 and he was sacked 11 times. Redman rushed for eight yards on 10 carries with no touchdowns.

In all likelihood, the scenario will unfold this way: Redman will have his back surgery, begin the rehabilitation process while the Ravens look to re-sign Blake to an incentive-laden deal somewhere below the top market value for an NFL starting quarterback.

"In the perfect world I could sit here and say, ‘We are going to retain all of our unrestricted free agents,'" Newsome said. "Reality tells us that is not going to happen, whether that is because of them or us. They might decide that the paths are greener on the other side of the fence.

"Or, if we take the opportunity to compare our players with some of the other players that are going to be available, then some of those guys may or may not be back."

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