- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 2, 2002

Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome wasn't kidding when he said Tuesday that Elvis Grbac wouldn't return as the Ravens' quarterback without a contract renegotiation. The team cut Grbac yesterday, less than a year after wooing him from Kansas City with a five-year, $30 million deal.

The Ravens let Super Bowl-winning quarterback Trent Dilfer go last year to sign Grbac, but he failed to match his Pro Bowl play with the Chiefs and wound up 24th in the passer ratings.

Grbac threw 18 interceptions and just 15 touchdowns as Baltimore was bounced from the playoffs in the second round by Pittsburgh. Grbac was the object of much criticism, not only from fans and the media, but from teammate Shannon Sharpe, a sure Hall of Famer.

Ravens coach Brian Billick visited Grbac at his home in Ohio last month to let the quarterback know that the team wouldn't pay the $6 million roster bonus he was due yesterday but wanted him back with an incentive-laden contract. When Grbac and agent Jim Steiner decided they could do better elsewhere, the Ravens opted to change quarterbacks again.

In 1997, Vinny Testaverde held the job. He was followed by Jim Harbaugh in 1998, Tony Banks in 1999, Dilfer in 2000 and Grbac. Chris Redman, who has thrown three passes in two seasons, is the only quarterback currently on the roster, although soon to be 39-year-old backup Randall Cunningham has changed his mind about retiring and has told the Ravens he wants to re-sign.

And don't think Baltimore will try to lure free agent Dilfer back or trade with New England for Drew Bledsoe. Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne said the team won't be looking to add a free agent until the post-June 1 signing period.

"We're disappointed for us and Elvis," Billick said in a statement. "We thought a new contract would not only give us obvious help with our salary cap but would benefit Elvis, too. We were looking forward to facing the challenges of next season when we believed that he would play at a higher level for us.

Grbac is the ninth starter to depart the Ravens since the season ended. Defensive tackle Tony Siragusa retired and linebacker Jamie Sharper went to Houston in the expansion draft. Sharpe, receiver Qadry Ismail, guard Kipp Vickers, safety Rod Woodson, defensive end Rob Burnett and defensive tackle Sam Adams were cut for financial reasons, Adams just before Thursday's midnight deadline to get under the $71.1 million cap.

Additionally, cornerback Duane Starks and safety Corey Harris are free agents. The Ravens would like to re-sign Starks, while Ismail, Sharpe and Harris could return at the right price.

Of the 22 regulars for the Super Bowl champion Ravens of 2000, only eight remain: offensive linemen Jonathan Ogden, Edwin Mulitalo and Mike Flynn, halfback Jamal Lewis, end Michael McCrary, linebackers Ray Lewis and Peter Boulware and cornerback Chris McAlister.


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