Late For Work 3/10: Ravens Will Look Into Tiki Barber, But…

Plus Cinco to fight Zibby without new CBA, Raiders re-sign Boller and Billick gets flack.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Thursday, March 10th, 2011 at 9:14 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison


Ravens Will Look Into Tiki Barber, But…

The big talk on Baltimore message boards and radio talk shows yesterday was whether the Ravens would consider signing former Giants running back Tiki Barber now that he is un-retiring.

While on a call with Head Coach John Harbaugh last night, season-ticket holders seized a golden opportunity to ask him to gauge the Ravens’ interest in the 35 year old.

Harbaugh said the Ravens would take a look at Barber, but “I have no idea what kind of shape he’s in. … We’ll turn over every rock.”

As Ravens insider Aaron Wilson pointed out, that is the “stock answer” for every free agent.

“Harbaugh has never really eliminated any free agent when asked to gauge Ravens’ interest,” added the Baltimore Sun’s Jamison Hensley. “So don’t read too much into it.”

But as Harbaugh and the Ravens turn over every rock, they could find some character issues and discover his heart isn’t really in it. CBSSports.com’s Clark Judge believes Barber is returning for the wrong reason – money – which is speculated to be used to pay for an expensive divorce.

But that is all just conjecture and the bigger question is about Barber’s physical ability to be productive at his age and after a four-year break from the game. He did finish his career with five consecutive 1,200-yard seasons and SI.com’s Peter King thinks there could be some yards left in Barber if he truly wants to give the NFL another try.

That isn’t enough to convince The Sun’s Matt Vensel.

“Maybe Barber will find a role somewhere as a third-down back – maybe – but that’s something the Ravens don’t need.

“Count on the Ravens bolstering their backfield in the draft or on the free-agent market whenever the dust settles in the labor brouhaha. They will pass on a washed-up back who is just trying to cash a paycheck.”

Fans also asked Harbaugh about the prospect of pursing potential free agent wide receiver Santonio Holmes. Without a new CBA, however, Holmes is still a member of the New York Jets and Harbaugh could not comment and referenced the NFL tampering rule.

Ochocinco Says He’ll Fight Zbikowski If There Isn’t A New CBA

I don’t know how the boys at “The Afternoon Saloon” on ESPN Radio Chicago managed to get both Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski and Bengals receiver Chad Ochocino on the phone at the same time yesterday, but I do know that it was endlessly entertaining.

We all know that Zbikowski has been serious about his promoter and Cinco’s agent setting up a boxing bout, but we’ve had to filter through Ochocinco’s trash talk and macho-man façade to see if he would really step into the ring with the professional boxer.

Luckily, with Zbikowski on the line and hosts Carmen and Jurko asking the pointed questions, Ochocinco had to be more up front about his willingness to go toe-to-toe with “Tommy Z.” And it probably comes as no surprise that Ochocinco was less committal than we’ve seen on his Twitter account.

Asked if he needed three months to train and prepare for a fight, Ochocinco said:

“It depends on how the [collective bargaining agreement] goes. If the CBA doesn’t get settled, we as players can do whatever we want because we’re legally not under contract.

“That would be something fun, to beat up on a Raven off the field.”

But if there is a lockout, both fighters (if that’s an appropriate title for Ochocinco) agreed that holding the fight in Chicago would be fun (at the suggestion of the local radio hosts), but Las Vegas would be ideal.

 ”Chicago is good, but with me and Zibby fighting, we could probably sell out the MGM easily,” Ochocinco said.

Added Zbikowski, “The turnout would be unbelievable.”

When Carmen and Jurko pointed out that there would be a 35-pound weight difference, the 190-pound Zbikowski wouldn’t let that be an excuse to not fight the Bengals receiver (225 pounds).

“That doesn’t matter. The guy I’m fighting Saturday is 225,” Zbikowski said of his opponent, Richard Bryant. “My first fight was at heavyweight. I’m back down to cruiserweight but these dudes gotta give me bigger guys because they know what kind of power I have. That’s the only way they’re going to last past two rounds.”

But between all the insults and big-talk, both players displayed respect for one another.

“Ocho, you coming to Vegas?” asked Zbikowski.

“You know [darn] well I’m coming to support you,” responded Ochocinco. “Most definitely.”

“I appreciate it.”

Boller Quietly Re-Signs With Raiders; Billick Still Getting Flack

The Oakland Raiders quietly re-signed former Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller to a reported one-year, $1.25 million contract before the NFL league year ended last week, Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune reported.

It will be Boller’s ninth year in the league after being drafted by the Ravens in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft.

Meanwhile, because Boller didn’t totally live up to his first-round billing during his five-year stay in Baltimore, former Ravens Head Coach and NFL Network analyst Brian Billick is still catching flack.

Billick tweeted yesterday that he would look elsewhere for a quarterback before considering Auburn’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Cam Newton.

Someone will gamble with him, I wouldn’t,” wrote Billick.

Apparently some of Billick’s Twitter followers reminded him that he didn’t have very much luck drafting a quarterback in 2003.

“After the hundreds and hundreds of reminders…yes, we gambled on a QB, that’s why I’m tweeting about the draft rather than prepping for one!” he replied.

Touché.

Still, according to ESPN’s James Walker, the Ravens’ 2003 draft class was something special…

Ravens Top Drafts Since 2000

ESPN’s AFC North blog continued its series of top draft classes of the past decade, and examined the Ravens’ yesterday.

At No. 3 was the class of 2003. Walker says the best Ravens picks from that year were outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (first round), linebacker Jarret Johnson (fourth), defensive lineman Aubrayo Franklin (fifth round), fullback Ovie Mughelli (fourth round) and offensive tackle Tony Pashos (fifth round).

Walker’s No. 2 pick was the class of 2006, which included defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (first round), guard Chris Chester (second round), safety Dawan Landry (fifth round) and punter Sam Koch (sixth round).
 
“I remember sitting in the Cleveland Browns’ media room while covering the team in 2006 when the No. 12 pick came up,” wrote Walker. “Ngata was still on the board, and so was linebacker Kamerion Wimbley. I liked Ngata for Cleveland, but I also knew the Browns liked both players. So Cleveland traded the pick to a division rival, allowed the Ravens [to] get Ngata, and I immediately knew it was a mistake. … The Ravens have a player who, five years later, is arguably the best defensive lineman in the NFL.”

And the No. 1 draft class since 2000? Walker says it is the class of 2008, which highlights quarterback Joe Flacco (first round), running back Ray Rice (second round) and safeties Zbikowski (third round) and Haruki Nakamura (sixth round).

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