OWINGS MILLS — The Baltimore Ravens are scheduled to resume exploratory talks with Pittsburgh Steelers free agent offensive tackle Marvel Smith today.
A former Pro Bowl selection, Smith missed the final 11 games of the regular season as well as the entire playoffs with a recurring disc injury.
Obviously, the Ravens will want to do their due diligence medically on Smith, a 30-year-old former second-round draft pick from Arizona State who has had two surgeries to alleviate problems that have included numbness in one leg.
Smith and his representatives are confident that his back problems are behind him and that he can pass an NFL physical. Smith, who has started 108 career games since his rookie year in 2000, is also drawing interest from the Oakland Raiders.
"I’m doing everything possible to deal with the situation I’m in," Smith said in a radio interview prior to the start of free agency. "This will be my 10th year, and it’s obvious what I can do on the field. I can do anything they want me to do, and going through this situation, I hope, will be a benefit to me as a player."
If the Ravens were to sign Smith, it could affect the roster status of veteran offensive tackle Willie Anderson.
Anderson is entering the second year of a three-year, $11 million contract. The four-time Pro Bowl selection is due a $3.5 million base salary in 2009.
At this point, though, it looks like Anderson is in the team’s plans.
"We talked to Ozzie Newsome about Willie coming back and we definitely expect him to be there and be the starter," said Terry Bolar, Anderson’s agent. "He’s working hard and preparing to be in the best condition. He’s really happy up there.
"If they were to sign another player, Willie would welcome the challenge. Willie appreciates the opportunity. He’s doing everything to prepare himself physically to come back and be dominant."
The Ravens haven’t spoken recently with the agent for cornerback Samari Rolle, who’s on the trading block and could possibly be released after the signing of former University of Maryland cornerback Domonique Foxworth to a four-year, $27.2 million deal that included $16.5 million in guaranteed money.
Rolle, who would like to be released, is due a $4.1 million base salary in 2009.
"No comment," said Peter Schaffer, Rolle’s agent. "I haven’t spoken to Ozzie."
After being cut by the Ravens on Friday, veteran defensive end Marques Douglas is drawing preliminary interest from the San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets and Denver Broncos.
A potential return to Baltimore for the former Howard University player hasn’t been ruled out.
Douglas has prior stints with the 49ers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who traded him to Baltimore for a conditional draft pick last year.
Shortly after the season, the Ravens re-signed defensive end Dwan Edwards for the 2009 season with a $1 million base salary and a $400,000 signing bonus. The Ravens also recently signed restricted free agent defensive tackle Brandon McKinney to a three-year contract worth nearly $4 million.
Meanwhile, the Ray Lewis watch continues.
Since the All-Pro middle linebacker doesn’t have the leverage of competing offers as other NFL teams are signing inside linebackers at a rapid pace and haven’t been inclined to bid on Lewis, he’s expected to ultimately return to Baltimore.
Whether Lewis will accept the Ravens’ three-year, $24 million contract proposal that includes $17 million in guaranteed money or a different offer remains to be seen for the two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
The Ravens arguably could lower the contract offer from a pure business standpoint, but it would probably be counterproductive in terms of team chemistry since it would infuriate an already frustrated veteran player.
"I’m sure Ray’s a little disappointed because he’s a proud guy and he knows he can play at a high level," former NFL defensive tackle Mike Golic, an ESPN radio personality, said in a telephone interview Sunday. "He’s still an excellent player. Is he what he was in his prime? No, but his intangibles and leadership are still excellent. Is something off the fastball? A little bit, sure.
"When you’re that long in the league, that’s going to happen. In these times, the younger players will get the money. I think that sounds like a good offer from Baltimore. If nobody else is clamoring for him now in the first couple of days of free agency, it’s not going to happen. I know he’s prideful, but there’s prideful and then there’s reality."
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.