JUDGE notes: Ravens hope to keep Adams

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Clark Judge

Free-agent defensive tackle is headed to Washington ... no, Denver ... no, Oakland. The former Baltimore ' star has been linked to those, and other clubs, as the list of high-profile free agents shrinks, but there's someone we seem to be forgetting here. Would you believe ... Baltimore? The can't make a move on Adams until they reach a new deal with linebackers or , and there isn't much movement on either front. But there's a catch here, and it could keep Baltimore in the picture: Lewis, Boulware and Adams all are represented by the same agent, Eugene Parker (Roosevelt Barnes, officially listed as Lewis' agent, works with Parker), so he can make a deal happen for Adams by wrapping up a contract with either Boulware or Lewis. For the moment, then, Baltimore is very much a possibility for Adams. "They know we had a very good offer on the table before free agency started," said Baltimore executive Ozzie Newsome, "and I'm in constant contact with Eugene Parker. He knows our ability to pay Sam depends on what we do with Ray and Pete, but he also has an idea what we're willing to pay." Newsome won't reveal his hand, and he shouldn't. After all, there are several teams interested in hiring Adams away from Baltimore, but none so interested that it will step up right away and pay the $4 million signing bonus he demands. That has Newsome optimistic, and prospective suitors wary. "Let's just say everyone would have to blow us out of the water," Newsome said of Baltimore's chances of re-signing Adams. Newsome is hopeful something can be resolved with Boulware and/or Lewis by the start of training camp next month, but he makes no predictions. The question is: Can Adams wait that long? With Parker able to open the ' cap room necessary to sign Adams, anything seems possible.

A McNown rebirth in San Fran?

There are plenty of things about this game I don't understand, and one of them is the decline of former UCLA quarterback , a guy who once looked like the next Steve Young. Three years ago, he was the 12th pick of the draft; today, he's on his third team in four years. What in the name of is going on? For answers I went to people who know, study and work with the guy, and the problem, basically, stems from McNown's accuracy. Simply put, he has none. "Once he has to throw more than 12-15 yards, the ball is all over the place," said one NFC coach. "In fact, he seems more accurate when he's on the move." While McNown is immature, insiders say he's more willing to listen than he was when he was with Chicago. The problem is he's not always willing or able to apply what he picks up in the classroom to the football field. "He doesn't appreciate the situation," said one insider. "He made plays by running all over the place in college, but this is a different level. You can't run around all the time. Look at Steve Young. Until he became disciplined and picked his spots to run he was an ordinary quarterback." It was San Francisco where Young became an established quarterback, and it is San Francisco where McNown will try to resuscitate his career. Most agree that the are a perfect fit for McNown: They don't throw the ball upfield much, though they throw it more than they used to. But McNown comes to the behind others, and that will be a problem. He'll play catchup in his third offense in three years, and that won't be easy. The good news: The can afford to wait. They have a Pro Bowl quarterback in , and can serve as the backup. What they need is experience behind Garcia, and McNown — with 15 starts — has it. The question is: Can he gain enough accuracy to satisfy his new club?

look to move Bryson

Don't rule out running back staying with Buffalo. The checked into possible deals for Bryson, with Philadelphia the most interested party, but trade talks seem to have quieted. The offered a fifth-round pick for Bryson, who last year averaged 4.3 yards a carry, but Buffalo is more demanding: It's interested in a conditional third-rounder it can turn into a second based on playing time. Buffalo is not trying to unload the guy; the simply want to cover their bases. Bryson signed a one-year tender and probably leaves the after this season, so Buffalo is simply checking its options — interested to see if they can get something for him while they can. But the haven't ruled out keeping him. The problem is that the team seems committed to , and , and that doesn't leave a lot of room for breathing. Plus, president and general manager Tom Donahoe didn't draft Bryson; he drafted Henry, the leading candidate to start. Stay tuned.

expect Lewis back

Running back is on course in his recovery from a severe knee injury with Baltimore — so much so that the expect him to be their starting back when they open against Carolina on Sept. 8. There is no talk about opening training camp with Lewis on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP), and that's positive. According to coaches there, Lewis seems to have no trouble with his lateral movement and gradually is regaining his conditioning. The aren't naive; they concede he might not regain his form until mid-season. But they're pleased with Lewis' progress so far, and that's a start.

to add another Gator?

The San Francisco no longer seem interested in free-agent wide receiver . While he had a career-high 81 catches with New Orleans last year, there are a couple of problems that caused the to move on. First, Jackson wants to be a go-to receiver with an East Coast team, with Washington a possibility. The make sense because Jackson went to the University of Florida, and Washington Coach Steve Spurrier can't seem to get enough Gators. One problem there: The value and more. Then there's the money. The made him an attractive two-year offer valued at an estimated $1.4 million annually, but Jackson turned it down. The haven't responded, refusing to negotiate further and looking beyond Jackson, which brings us to the third issue: team chemistry. If Jackson is as adamant about being the No. 2 receiver, as the believe, they don't think they can keep him — or their other receivers — happy. We all know about how much likes the ball, and he should: He's the team's best player. But then you have , and . The would like to develop Wilson but feel they might not be able to if Jackson's on board. And they don't want Streets or Stokes to go in the tank. "If it works out," said a source close to the club, "it's because came back to the ."

open QB competition

The San Diego will have an open competition at quarterback this year, but the feeling is that the decision has all but been made and that it's , not , who wins the job. The club's second draft pick a year ago, Brees played in one game — rallying San Diego from a 19-0 halftime deficit against Kansas City — and coming this close to pulling off the come-from-behind victory. Former offensive coordinator Norv Turner thought Brees was ready to start late last season, and the new coaching staff apparently likes what it sees in the guy, too. One person close to the situation said Flutie senses he could be in trouble and doesn't act as confidently as he did a year ago when he was the unquestioned starter. The consensus from those around the league is this: If Brees is as good as he looked against the last year, he gives San Diego a chance in the AFC West.

looking for leaders

The Atlanta not only are looking for a general manager; they're looking for a team president who can oversee the team's administration as well as manage its salary cap. While the club isn't expected to hire a GM before the end of the season, a team president could be hired as early as this summer. Speaking of the and their search for a GM ... they recently contacted Dwight Clark, who last month resigned as executive vice president of the Cleveland , and are expected to meet with him. But insiders say the team is more interested in former New Orleans GM Randy Mueller. The are conducting extensive research into the guy, but it's uncertain at this time how deep their interest is. Apparently, there are a myriad of reports they're trying to sort out before taking a run at him. And what about the ' vice president of football operations Ron Hill? Hill is qualified and is in solid with the club, as he should be. But he won't be considered for the GM's job.

hand ball to McMahon

The Detroit don't plan to start Joey Harrington at quarterback this season; their intention is to go with . That's good news for McMahon, but don't count on the sticking with him. History simply isn't on his side. From 1995-2001 there were 8 quarterbacks taken among the top 5 picks of the draft, and not only did all of them start their rookie seasons but 6 started before midseason. and started their rookie openers, while Cleveland's relieved in the second half of his first NFL game. didn't start until the fourth game; started the fifth and took over for in the 8th game last year. That bodes well for Harrington. And what about the others? Glad you asked. Philadelphia waited until Game 10 to unveil , while Tennessee waited until the 15th game to start . The point is: Harrington will play this year, and he'll probably finish the season.

Does Jones have a jones to return to NFL?

University of Hawaii Coach June Jones stopped by the Atlanta recently, and there is a feeling that the former Atlanta coach is hot to return to the NFL. Maybe, except one source close to Jones said he never mentioned it, talking instead about the coming season and how pleased he was with this year's recruiting class. If, he said, Jones was keen on returning to the league, you'd think he would have mentioned it. Sounds good to me. Clark Judge can be reached at his e-mail address:
Tagged: Falcons, Bills, Bears, Bengals, Browns, Lions, Titans, Colts, Chiefs, Saints, Giants, Eagles, 49ers, Seahawks, Redskins, Ravens, Chargers, Michael Vick, Sammy Morris, Akili Smith, Ty Detmer, Mike McMahon, Peyton Manning, Kerry Collins, Donovan McNabb, Doug Flutie, Drew Brees, Jeff Garcia, Terrell Owens, Jamal Lewis, Ray Lewis, Peter Boulware

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