The Baltimore Ravens might be back in the market for a veteran backup quarterback after learning that Anthony Wright will have to have surgery for a torn labrum in his right shoulder. That could put the Ravens in the running to sign Kordell Stewart or Kurt Warner but probably won't lead the club to seriously pursue Kerry Collins, who appears close to signing with the Oakland Raiders.
Collins, the former New York Giants starter, canceled a scheduled visit with the Green Bay Packers this week and is inching closer to an agreement with the Raiders, NFL sources said yesterday, speaking on the condition of anonymity because negotiations are at a sensitive stage. If the Raiders sign Collins, that would put Rich Gannon's future in Oakland in doubt.
The Ravens will decide whether to sign another quarterback after Wright has surgery in the coming days, team officials said. He could be sidelined as little as four weeks or as long as six months and doctors won't know the extent of the tear or the length of the rehabilitation until after the surgery. General Manager Ozzie Newsome told reporters that he had begun contacting agents to talk about quarterbacks.
The Ravens believe Wright hurt his shoulder during an overtime victory over the Seattle Seahawks last November in which he threw for 319 yards and four touchdowns. Wright's shoulder bothered him for the remainder of the season but he thought he merely had a tired arm, club officials said. He passed a physical and was told by the medical staff to rest his shoulder in the offseason, but it bothered him in recent passing drills and an MRI exam revealed the partial tear.
The Ravens have committed to Kyle Boller as their starting quarterback and re-signed Wright in March as backup. There has been speculation that Baltimore would pursue Collins because former Giants coach Jim Fassel is a consultant to Ravens Coach Brian Billick, helping to tutor Boller. Yesterday Billick did not rule out signing Collins, but team officials said they would sign a quarterback to a minimum-salary contract. It appears Collins could receive a comparatively lucrative deal from the Raiders.
Collins was released by the Giants last month when he refused to rework his contract after the club's draft-day trade for top overall pick Eli Manning. The Packers are interested in him as a prospective backup for Brett Favre, but Collins canceled a visit to Green Bay and would have a better chance to play in Oakland. If the Raiders sign Collins, Gannon might be released if he refuses to reduce his $7 million salary.
The Ravens might be interested in Warner, who is expected to be released June 1, if he would accept a minimum-salary deal, sources familiar with the situation said. The Giants would like to sign Warner to mentor Manning and perhaps open the season as the starter. Warner has said that Chicago and San Francisco are interested, and some in the league think Detroit is a possibility. Warner's agent, Mark Bartelstein, declined to comment about the Ravens' possible interest.
Ravens Note: The team signed free agent cornerback Dale Carter, a four-time Pro Bowl selection released by the New Orleans Saints in March, to a one-year contract. Carter, 34, once was among the league's top cornerbacks, but his career has been derailed by violations of the NFL's substance abuse policy.