Ravens reviewing options at quarterback

OWINGS MILLS – One day after jettisoning Jeff Blake, the Baltimore Ravens' outlook at quarterback remained a fluid situation. Because the Ravens were unable to reach an accord with Blake, they withdrew their contract offer Thursday after the unrestricted free agent decided to shop himself around the league. Now, it appears the Ravens are about to commence browsing.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers starter Kordell Stewart, like Blake, is a candidate for the Chicago Bears' quarterback vacancy. Yet, Stewart could surface in Baltimore for a visit possibly as soon as next week if he doesn't sign with Chicago.

Stewart is also reportedly looking at the Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins while Blake will visit the Steelers on Sunday and the Cardinals next week. Blake has been linked to Miami, too.

Quarterback Chris Redman will definitely factor into the Ravens' starting quarterback equation, but his recent back surgery to alleviate a herniated disc, clouds the issue.

"The biggest thing about Kordell is he has tremendous talent," Baltimore quarterbacks and receivers coach David Shaw said of a player with an 0-2 mark in AFC title games who was replaced last season by Tommy Maddox. "The minute he steps on the field, the defense has to take notice. When Kordell plays consistent like he did two years ago, you see all that he can do."

As a restricted free agent, Redman received a $1.3 million tender to retain him and ensure compensation of a first-round pick if another club was to sign him to an offer sheet.

Redman said his back is structurally sound again after addressing an injury he incurred in college at Louisville doing a heavy squat lift. He said he has resumed throwing while standing still and anticipates running again in a few weeks.

"I'm looking forward to playing without pain again," Redman said. "I'm really pleased with the progress I'm making."

A third-round selection in the 2000 NFL Draft, Redman compiled a 3-3 mark as a starter. The question remains: Can he take a hit? That won't be answered until August.

"We all know that Chris can play," Shaw said. "We're just waiting for him to play at 100 percent. He's already more flexible than I've ever seen him. He's chomping at the bit."

It's a limited quarterback market after Stewart now that Jake Plummer has signed with the Denver Broncos. Failed former starters such as Shaun King and Charlie Batch are looking for jobs, but the quarterback Baltimore has discussed publicly most often is Stewart.

Meanwhile, the Broncos have given Brian Griese permission to explore trade offers, but his present salary cap figure of $7.265 million would preclude such discussions.

His cap figure would reportedly escalate to $9.625 million if traded. Griese will likely be released after June 1, when the new NFL fiscal calendar begins and his 2003 cap impact on the Broncos will reportedly be reduced to $2.315 million.

"Griese's a good quarterback whose numbers warrant a look, but the issue is that June 1 is a long time away," Shaw said. "It would be tough for him to catch up after missing quarterback school."

Like another former University of Michigan quarterback Elvis Grbac, retired after a salary cap release from Baltimore, Griese has a reputation for alienating teammates.

 For his career, Griese has passed for 11,763 yards, 71 touchdowns and 53 interceptions. In the last two seasons, Griese has 38 touchdown passes and 34 interceptions.

"I think Brian would be an excellent fit with Baltimore, but they're putting a price limitation on that position for at least an intermittent period," said Ralph Cindrich, Griese's agent, who also represents Blake. "The trade would not be impossible, but it's improbable given the circumstances of Denver's cap. I wouldn't rule Baltimore out if they're wiling to wait."

Regardless of what happens in free agency, the Ravens are expected to draft a quarterback in the April draft within the first three rounds. That could mean targeting players such as Cal's Kyle Boller and Florida's Rex Grossman.

"The market is tough, but it's part of the NFL," Shaw said. "We have a great staff of guys out there looking. Hopefully, we'll be fine at quarterback."

NOTE: Free agent receiver Brandon Stokley visited the St. Louis Rams and has also drawn interest from the Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions. Returning to the Ravens remain a possibility. .. Former Ravens defensive tackle Sam Adams visited the Buffalo Bills.

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