Safety off Ravens' radar

Safety off Ravens' radar

OWINGS MILLS -- The Baltimore Ravens acknowledged having a level of interest in free safety Dwight Smith, although it apparently wasn't enough to openly bid for the veteran to try to prevent him from joining the Minnesota Vikings. Smith reached a three-year agreement in principle with the Vikings on Tuesday that's reportedly worth $6.5 million.

Hours prior to Smith striking a deal with Minnesota, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome denied a published report that he offered a contract to the former New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers starter.

"That's not true," Newsome said Tuesday afternoon. "We do have some interest."

The Ravens' least experienced and accomplished defensive position is the starting safety vacancy opposite former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Ed Reed.

Fifth-round draft pick Dawan Landry is slated to compete with Gerome Sapp for the top spot on a safety depth chart also populated by B.J. Ward, Robb Butler and Jamaine Winborne. The job opened this spring when Will Demps signed with the New York Giants.

Newsome said that considering the possibility of acquiring Smith shouldn't be interpreted as a lack of confidence in Landry, whom Baltimore drafted in the fifth round and gave a $129,000 signing bonus, or Sapp, whom the team reacquired from the Indianapolis Colts for a conditional pick in next year's draft.

"We're going to look at everyone at camp," Newsome said.

Former Atlanta Falcons safety Keion Carpenter, a Baltimore native who was cut by Atlanta, recently said that his agent contacted the Ravens. The interest doesn't appear to be mutual, though, and Baltimore is unlikely to sign a veteran days before training camp.

Meanwhile, negotiations are intensifying with defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, the No. 12 overall selection and the team's lone unsigned draft pick. However, no deal appears imminent.

Ngata's agent, Mike McCartney, who also represents unsigned Green Bay Packers rookie linebacker A.J. Hawk (the No. 5 overall pick), didn't return telephone calls.

The Ravens gained a reference point for constructing Ngata's deal when Cleveland Browns rookie linebacker Kamerion Wimbley -- the No. 13 overall pick – signed a six-year, $23.7 million deal that included $9.3 million in guaranteed money.

If the Philadelphia Eagles sign defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley -- the No. 14 pick – the Ravens would have even more information to refer to under the NFL slotting principle.

With players reporting to training camp in Westminster on Thursday, Newsome didn't offer a prediction for when a deal might be brokered between Ravens senior vice president of football administration Pat Moriarty and McCartney.

The Ravens haven't had their first-round pick signed on time since the summer of 2001 when tight end Todd Heap agreed to terms days before practice started at McDaniel College. The Ravens have already agreed to terms with 9 of their 10 draft picks.

"You never know when a deal is going to be finished, but Pat Moriarty and Mike McCartney are working extremely hard," Newsome said. "We're concentrating on getting Haloti's deal done."

Aaron Wilson writes for Ravens Insider and the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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