Ravens starting to wade in free agent waters

The Baltimore Ravens' brief holding pattern in free agency is about to end. Veteran cornerback Corey Fuller is among a group of three to four unrestricted free agents that the Ravens will host this week at their Owings Mills training complex.

Released in a cost-cutting measure that spared the Cleveland Browns a reported $3.9 million under the salary cap, Fuller is scheduled to visit today, according to the Ravens' web site.

Considered the top wide receiver available on the market, David Boston is likely to come to Baltimore later this week after a stop with the San Diego Chargers, said Boston's agent, Mitch Frankel.

The Arizona Cardinals declined to assign the franchise tag designation to Boston, whose package of talent and ideal size includes off-field and injury issues.

Meanwhile, Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome reported no significant progress Monday in negotiations for a new contract for incumbent quarterback Jeff Blake, an unrestricted free agent.

"Nope, we're still talking," Newsome said of the talks for Blake. "There's nothing new."

Newsome had a similar response when asked about the progress on a long-term extension for cornerback Chris McAlister, the Ravens' franchise player.

The agent for receiver Brandon Stokley said five teams are interested in his client. Stokley is a fourth-round pick from the 1999 NFL draft who underwent surgery on his foot and ended the season on injured reserve.

A low initial offer from the Ravens has his representative pessimistic about his chances of returning to Baltimore.

"There's significant interest in Brandon," said Rick Smith, Stokley's representative. "I'm not real sure if he'll be back in Baltimore. I don't know how that's going to work."

Stokley caught 24 passes for 357 yards and two touchdowns in eight games last season.

"We would love to have Brandon back," Newsome said. "We're working on it."

As for Fuller, he would potentially fill a need at cornerback, although he will turn 32 in May. If Fuller is signed, he could allow Gary Baxter to move back inside to safety, or Fuller could serve as the nickel back if James Trapp isn't re-signed.

At 5-foot-10, 210 pounds, the former Florida State standout has a reputation as an aggressive tackler. Last season, he finished with 32 tackles, a forced fumble and an interception.

In eight seasons that include four years with the Minnesota Vikings, Fuller has career totals of 462 tackles, 92 pass deflections and 17 interceptions.

Starting outside linebacker Cornell Brown has been linked with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have also expressed interest in free agents Shelton Quarles and Keith Newman.

Former Ravens defensive tackle Sam Adams, who struggled in the Super Bowl with the Raiders, and appeared overweight, was released last month by Oakland because of an astronomical $10 million cap figure.

Adams' agent has exchanged contract proposals with the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Buffalo Bills are reportedly another possibility.

"The Ravens are taking a slower approach and letting the waters calm," said Angelo Wright, Adams' agent, who added that Adams is working out regularly now and has consulted Raiders linebacker Bill Romanowski for fitness advice. "I've chatted with Ozzie and it's just a matter of putting something together.

"We've got certain parameters for a deal. He wants to be with a contender and Baltimore is a couple of players away."

The Ravens have swapped several contract proposals involving unrestricted free agent lineman Ethan Brooks. Brooks started 13 games last season at right tackle. He was out of football in 2001 after being released by the Denver Broncos.
"Ethan was glad to be back in football last year," said Robert McManus, Brooks' agent. "Starting for a great organization like the Ravens was a bonus. He had a good experience and the Ravens have made an offer to retain him. "So we will see how much they both want each other back very shortly."

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