It’s believed to be more likely that Scott will return than Brown given the Ravens’ preference to retain all of their linebackers, including star Ray Lewis, for the NFL’s second-ranked defense. The Ravens already locked up Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs with a $10.2 million franchise tag last week.
Harold Lewis, the agent for Scott and Brown, met twice with Ravens vice president of football administration Pat Moriarty at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.
"The hope is to get both Jason and Bart done with Baltimore this week, but my gut instinct tells me it will only be one of the two," Lewis said in a telephone interview. "That’s more of a realistic situation. If they make it to free agency, we would definitely stay in touch with the Ravens. So, they could still re-sign with the Ravens even if they look at other teams.
"The question is: Are the Ravens willing to pay these guys a premium price? When you think of the Baltimore Ravens, you think of those three linebackers. Those guys are a force. Our goal is to keep both Jason and Bart in Baltimore. It’s their No. 1 choice, but I believe things will happen fast once free agency starts Friday at 12:01 a.m."
A former undrafted free agent from Southern Illinois, Scott ranked second on the team in tackles last season behind Lewis. He had just 1 1/2 sacks last season after leading all NFL inside linebackers with 9 1/2 in 2006, but his pass coverage responsibilities have increased significantly since Adalius Thomas signed with the New England Patriots a few years ago.
"I think everybody in Baltimore knows what Bart brings to the table: tremendous tenacity on the field," Lewis said. "He’s such a leader on the field, a sure tackler, he can play safety. He has great athletic ability in coverage. He’s also a lead blocker for Ray, but he has no argument about that.
"He’s thrilled to play with a Hall of Famer. If Bart goes to another city, he can be the leader of that defense immediately and bring that Ravens mentality to wherever he goes. He’s pure quality, a great student of the game."
If Scott tests free agency, he’s expected to draw interest from the New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals and the Arizona Cardinals, among others.
Scott has repeatedly reiterated that he prefers to remain with the Ravens.
"All things being equal, the Ravens don’t have to come up with the biggest price," Scott said Monday in a radio interview with FOX-1370 AM. "If it’s close, I’ll stay. I left $12.5 million on the table the last time I was a free agent. If somebody blows you away with a big offer, then you have to do what’s best for you.
"I don’t have to be the highest-paid anything. I want to make market value. If you’ve got an idea what the market is going to be and your team can get it done for you, why test the market? I’m not about playing games. I thought I was the odd man out a month ago. I’ve always been the dark horse."
Because it’s believed that Brown may seek top guard money, which can average $6 million to $8 million annually, and the Ravens want to pay him like a center, it’s considered much more of a reach that he’ll be back.
Several teams looking to upgrade their interior offensive line, including the Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins and Jacksonville Jaguars, may make a strong run at Brown as an unrestricted free agent.
"I would expect teams to not only look at Jason at center, but also as a guard," Lewis said. "He’s only 25 years old. He’s got the feet, tremendous athleticism. He’s big and strong. He’s smart. I think wherever he goes he’ll make somebody very, very happy."
The Ravens sound prepared for the likelihood that they will not be able to keep all of their high-profile unrestricted free agents.
"For the most part, the ones that we want to keep, we try to keep," general manager Ozzie Newsome told reporters at the scouting combine. "We realize we can’t keep them all."
NOTES: Although Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware recently stated that Ray Lewis has repeatedly lobbied him to try to get the Cowboys to pursue him in free agency, saying it’s his dream to wear the Cowboys’ star, it doesn’t sound like they’re going to reciprocate necessarily. "It would surprise me to see a big splash," Cowboys team owner Jerry Jones told Dallas reporters of his free agent plans. Of course, Lewis may just be attempting to drive up his price by engaging other teams like Dallas and the Jets. … The representative for Ravens cornerback Samari Rolle said he hasn’t heard from team officials regarding speculation that Rolle might be asked to take a pay cut from his $4.1 million 2009 salary or that he might be released. "I don’t deal in hypotheticals," agent Peter Schaffer said. "I like to deal with reality."
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.