OWINGS MILLS — Driving toward his new home in Orlando, Fla., it struck veteran cornerback Fabian Washington that his latest journey coincides with a pending exit from the Baltimore Ravens’ roster.
An unrestricted free agent, Washington doesn’t think there’s a spot for him with the AFC North franchise after losing his starting job last season along with the return of starting cornerback Domonique Foxworth from a knee injury and the Ravens looking to retain Chris Carr or Josh Wilson.
"I just don’t see where I would fit in their plans," Washington told the Carroll County Times in a telephone interview. "I feel like they’ve got to sign either Josh or Chris back to go with Foxy and Lardarius Webb. It’s a business.
"I absolutely enjoyed my time there. I have nothing bad to say about the organization. I’m pretty confident I’ll find another job once we find out what’s going on with the labor stuff."
A former Oakland Raiders first-round draft pick from Nebraska, Washington was benched last season against the Buffalo Bills and replaced by Wilson.
Bills wide receiver Lee Evans beat Washington for two of his three touchdown catches, catching six passes for 105 yards against him during the Ravens’ 37-34 overtime win.
"I had a terrible game," Washington said. "I think they saw flashes of what happened the year before. That year, I didn’t have a good season at all. That was one year where I should have been benched and wasn’t.
"I gave up some plays I’m not accustomed to giving up this year. It was more of a shocker to me that it happened. I think it was a situation where Josh got some playing time and played so well that they can’t take him out. Josh played pretty damn good."
A former track star who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.25 seconds at the NFL scouting combine, Washington was a three-time All-Big 12 selection for the Cornhuskers.
Traded to the Ravens three years ago for a fourth-round draft pick, Washington started 12 games that season with 31 tackles and one interception plus another interception in the playoffs.
Last season, Washington finished with 31 tackles and eight pass deflections in eight starts.
After tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in his left two seasons ago, Washington returned last season under a $1.809 million restricted tender.
He wasn’t completely healthy, though.
"I’m really close to 100 percent now," Washington said. "I’m getting there. I feel like my explosiveness last year was at about 85 percent to 90 percent. I had to be out there, but I definitely rushed myself back.
"I would do it again in a heartbeat. I know what it feels like to watch games from the sideline. I came back earlier than I should have, but it didn’t hurt my play."
Now, Washington is set to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time.
Washington is unsure of where he’ll land, but doesn’t necessarily have to be a starter to be interested in an opportunity. He would be content as a nickel back, too.
"I’ve got to find out who’s interested in me," Washington said. "Nobody can talk to me right now because I’m technically still under contract. I see some teams I think I can help like Arizona, Jacksonville and Houston. It’s just a matter of finding the right spot for me.
"I don’t have to be a starter. If a team wants to let me compete for a starting job, that’s fine. I definitely want to be somewhere where I’m actually playing. At worst, I’ll be a third corner."
Like all NFL players, Washington’s status remains uncertain because of the unresolved collective bargaining agreement situation.
For now, Washington’s primary concern is getting settled in his new home after moving from Sarasota.
"Right now, I’m just sitting back and relaxing," Washington said. "All of this stuff is out of my hands. I hope they get a deal in place so we won’t have a lockout.
"I heard both sides are working pretty hard. I have faith. I’m being optimistic that we get something done that’s good for everybody."
NOTE: The Ravens have signed offensive tackle Eric Vanden Huevel, according to his agent, Matt Brei. He’s a 6-foot-8, 324-pound former University of Wisconsin player. Brei was a three-year starter for the Badgers. He was expected to be a middle-round draft pick two years ago, but opted to not pursue football at that time. Vanden Huevel was an honorable-mention All-Big Ten Conference selection.