Ravens clean house to get down to cap

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

The Baltimore Ravens are paying the price for trying to win a second straight Super Bowl last season.

The 2001 Super Bowl champions said Tuesday that they will cut eight key players, including tight end Shannon Sharpe, free safety Darren Woodson and wide receiver Qadry Ismail. Ozzie Newsome, the team's personnel director, also said that unless Elvis Grbac restructures the $30 million, five-year deal he signed last year, he won't be the quarterback next season.

The cuts are expected Thursday.

"We knew that we would be facing some serious cap issues in 2002, but the opportunity to win two Super Bowls in a row was overwhelming to us," Newsome said. "What we're facing today is not something that's unexpected. I think everybody is ready for the challenge, to get this football team back where it was before."

The Ravens weren't the only ones making moves to get ready for the March 1 deadline.

Two sources confirmed that Danny Wuerffel will be traded to Washington, rejoining Steve Spurrier, under whose guidance he won the 1996 Heisman trophy at Florida. Wuerffel, who hasn't thrown an NFL pass since 1999 and has completed less than 50 percent in his career, might get a shot at the starting job -- after Friday, second-year-man Josh Rosenfels will be the only QB under contract in Washington.

The Detroit Lions did a 180-degree turn on Herman Moore, their leading career receiver.

According to Moore's agent, Brad Blank, the team told Moore that he would be released June 1 to save the team cap room. Moore has been injury plagued the last few years and had only four receptions last season.

But in the afternoon, they announced that Moore had agreed to renegotiate his contract to help give the team cap room.

"Herman is still a member of the Lions," said team president Matt Millen.

Denver, meanwhile, extended the contract of Rod Smith, who led the NFL with 113 receptions last season. The deal, done to give the Broncos more cap room, is worth $40 million over seven years, including an $11 million signing bonus.

In New England, coach Bill Belichick said he was spending his time searching for a way to redo the contracts of linebacker Ted Johnson and defensive end Willie McGinest to help get under the $71.1 million salary cap. Johnson and McGinest are due to make $6.5 million between them and are prime candidates to be released if they don't restructure.

Belichick said that would delay any decision on quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who was replaced by Tom Brady this year and is expected to be traded.

"The players that are under contract, they'll get taken care of in due course. There's no active negotiations or anything like that," Belichick said. "The most pressing problems are the ones that have to be handled immediately. The ones that can wait are waiting."

But the Ravens are taking the biggest hit.

In addition to Woodson, Sharpe and Ismail, Baltimore will release defensive linemen Rob Burnett and Larry Webster; offensive lineman Kip Vickers, and fullback Sam Gash. The group also includes defensive tackle Tony Siragusa, who already had announced his retirement.

Woodson, Sharpe and Ismail together would have made $8.2 million next season, or more than 10 percent of the cap.

Newsome said all but Siragusa could come be brought back after June 1 for far smaller salaries.

But it's unlikely the Ravens will come close to resembling the Super Bowl winners. Two other key players, kick returner Jermaine Lewis and linebacker Jamie Sharper, were taken by Houston in last week's expansion draft, placed on the list because their salaries were too high.

Rams secondary coach Meeks to lead Colts defense

INDIANAPOLIS -- Coach Tony Dungy announced that Rams secondary coach Ron Meeks would be the Indianapolis Colts new defensive coordinator.

Dungy also announced the hiring of John Teerlinck as the Colts defensive line coach. Teerlinck, who spent the past five years as a pass rush specialist with the Denver Broncos, was defensive line coach at Minnesota when Dungy was the Vikings defensive coordinator.

"We're excited about having these two guys," Dungy said. "We want to be a fast team, we want to play at a high intensity level. Both believe in it and both coach it very well."

Meeks replaces Vic Fangio, who took the defensive coordinator postion with the expansion Houston Texans after Jim Mora was fired as Colts coach in January. The Colts defense ranked 29th in the NFL last season.

Meeks entered the NFL coaching ranks in 1991 as a defensive assistant with Dallas. He was defensive backs coach with Cincinnati from 1992 to 1996, Atlanta from 1997 to 1999 and Washington in 2000 before joining the Rams.

Faulk wins Maxwell Player of the Year

PHILADELPHIA -- Marshall Faulk says he's already gotten past the sting of the Rams' Super Bowl defeat.

"I'm over it. I know that we have a great group of guys, a really good core, and we'll be right back at it next year," said Faulk, who collected the Maxwell Football Club's Professional Player of the Year Award.

Faulk, playing in his hometown of New Orleans, was held to 76 yards on 17 carries and didn't get close to the end zone as the heavily favored "Greatest Show on Turf" lost 20-17 to the New England Patriots.

"We didn't execute to the best of our ability and we lost the ballgame. It just so happened to be the Super Bowl," Faulk said.

Faulk still had one of his best seasons, confirming his status as perhaps the game's most versatile offensive weapon.

-- From wire services

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