Blake and Stokley defect, Stewart might visit

OWINGS MILLS - The Baltimore Ravens' passing game experienced two anticipated defections. Wide receiver Brandon Stokley landed a job with the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday despite his history of hard luck in Baltimore. And former starting quarterback Jeff Blake joined the Arizona Cardinals. And Stewart has tentatively agreed to a Monday visit at the Ravens' training complex contingent upon ongoing negotiations with the Chicago Bears, according to agent Leigh Steinberg.

"Kordell is intrigued with the possibility of playing for Brian Billick," Steinberg said. "Obviously, the Bears have a sense of urgency and want to solidify their quarterback position as soon as possible.

 "If we don't reach a contract with the Bears over the next few days, Kordell looks forward to meeting with the Ravens."

Stewart, 30, has a 0-2 mark in AFC title games and was replaced as the Pittsburgh Steelers starter last season by Tommy Maddox. He has thrown 70 touchdowns against 72 interceptions, but has the durability and speed of a running back.

He reportedly wants a contract in the neighborhood of $3 million to $ 4 million per season.

Blake reached an accord with Arizona for three years and $7.5 million that includes compensation of $3.5 million within the first year, according to a published report. Baltimore withdrew its three-year proposal that averaged between $1.5 and $2 million last week when Blake opted to visit the Bears, Steelers and Arizona.

"I think that Baltimore is a smart organization," said Ralph Cindrich, Blake's agent. "They do it probably the way you should do it. They put a value on an item and they promise to hold to that value.

"Arguably, whether it's a good decision or a bad decision, it was an awfully good situation with Baltimore. I don't know of any that would have been better from purely a football standpoint."

Stokley, another unrestricted free agent, was unable to work out for teams due to a foot injury that placed him on injured reserve in November. His hands and route-running ability still drew enough interest from the Colts.

Now, he'll have to contend with staying healthy on the artificial turf of the RCA Dome.

Indianapolis reached a two-year agreement in principle with Stokley reportedly worth $2.9 million. Stokley' agent, Rick Smith, confirmed the deal to the Times.

Stokley had expressed interest in returning to Baltimore, but was only offered a one-year veteran minimum contract.

He experienced a variety of injury issues every year since being selected in the fourth round of the 1999 NFL Draft. That included numerous ankle and knee problems.

Stokley elected to shop around the league, going on visits with the St. Louis Rams, Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers. His agent also talked with the Colts and Detroit Lions.

Last season, Stokley caught a career-high 24 passes for 357 yards and two touchdowns. Stokley will best be remembered in Baltimore for dashing past New York Giants cornerback Jason Sehorn to catch a 38-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter of Super Bowl XXXV.

With the Colts, Stokley will likely be a complementary target for Peyton Manning behind All-Pro Marvin Harrison as he replaces the released former Raven starter Qadry Ismail.

Meanwhile, Stewart remains the frontrunner for the Chicago Bears' vacancy.

"We're going to be cautious about how we proceed," Steinberg said. "We want to make sure it's the right decision."

Cindrich said it's uncertain whether Denver Broncos quarterback Brian Griese will emerge as a target of the Ravens after June 1. When the NFL's fiscal calendar begins, the Broncos are likely to release Griese having already acquired his replacement, Jake Plummer.

The Ravens could also entertain secondary options at quarterback like Pittsburgh's Charlie Batch, Tampa Bay's Shaun King or Minnesota's Todd Bouman to compete with Chris Redman, who is recuperating from back surgery.

Baltimore is likely to draft a quarterback within the first three rounds of the April draft, too.

"I think the Ravens have an intelligent plan for what they will do at quarterback," Cindrich said. "They want to avoid what they've been doing with this constant turnover. I have some serious doubts if they would go after a Brian Griese, pay him, and still have things develop for them in the draft."

NOTES: The Ravens face a Friday afternoon deadline to secure franchise player Chris McAlister to a long-term contract extension. If the Ravens sign the cornerback between March 15 and July 15, they would lose the right to assign the franchise tag to any player for the entire length of McAlister's contract. There is no such penalty after July 15. … Former Ravens All-Pro return specialist Jermaine Lewis said he's mulling over the respective merits of the Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals and Jacksonville Jaguars. … Former Ravens defensive tackle Sam Adams' agent, Angelo Wright, said the Buffalo Bills are the leading contender to sign Adams over the Bengals and Ravens. "Sam doesn't have his mind made up yet, but he likes Buffalo a lot," Wright said. "Baltimore hasn't emerged as a player yet."

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