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Lions' Send Mitchell To Ravens


After striking out in an attempt to land quarterback Brad Johnson, new Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick apparently will settle for Scott Mitchell.

The Detroit Free Press is reporting the Ravens have acquired Mitchell from the Detroit Lions in exchange for a third-round pick in 1999 and a fifth-round pick, which could escalate to a fourth-rounder, in 2000.

The deal is expected to be announced by the teams at the NFL spring meetings either today or Wednesday.

To make salary cap room for Mitchell, the Ravens are expected to trade veteran quarterback Jim Harbaugh to the San Diego Chargers for a draft pick.

Mitchell, 31, is to enter the third year of a four-year, $22 million deal.

When Baltimore hired Billick from Minnesota in January, it was believed the Ravens would also acquire Vikings quarterback Brad Johnson, who lost his starting job to Randall Cunningham. But Washington was willing to send first- and third-round picks in 1999 and a second-round pick in 2000 to Minnesota for Johnson, while the Ravens were reluctant to part with as many draft choices.

The Ravens then started to court veteran Warren Moon, a former Viking quarterback under Billick, and Mitchell.

The Lions signed Gus Frerotte as a free agent two weeks ago and were anxious to rid themselves of Mitchell's high salary. Despite the trade, Mitchell will still cost the Lions $4.45 million against this year's salary cap. The figure represents the final half of his signing bonus and $450,000 which was restructured for salary cap purposes.

After playing poorly in Detroit's first two games last season, Mitchell was relegated to third-string status by coach Bobby Ross and did not play for the rest of the year. He completed 38-of-75 passes for 452 yards and just one touchdown with three interceptions in Detroit's first two losses. Mitchell was benched and bumped to third string after his ill-fated pass directly led to a 34-28 overtime loss to Cincinnati on Sept. 13.

Detroit earned three playoff berths in five years with Mitchell as a starting quarterback, but failed to win a postseason game.

In 1997, Mitchell completed 56 percent of his passes (293-of-509) for 3,484 yards and 19 touchdowns with 14 interceptions. But he struggled in a 20-10 loss to Tampa Bay in the wild card loss that year, completing 10-of-25 passes for 78 yards with an interception.

Mitchell was originally signed to a three-year, $11 million contract by Detroit in March of 1994. He started the first nine games before suffering a season-ending wrist injury in a November 6th game at Green Bay. In nine games, Mitchell passed for 1,456 yards and 10 touchdwns with 11 interceptions.

Mitchell rewrote the Lions' record book in 1995 when he passed for 4,338 yards and 32 touchdowns with just 12 interceptions. The left-hander broke the team single season records for completions (346), attempts (583), passing yards and passing touchdowns. The Lions closed the 1995 season with seven straight wins to earn a playoff berth at 10-6.

But Mitchell's production slipped in 1996 and the Lions slumped to a 5-11 record and finished in last place in the NFC Central. He completed 58 percent of his passes for 2,917 yards and 17 touchdowns with 17 interceptions for a quarterback rating of 74.9.

Mitchell was primarily a backup to Dan Marino in his four years at Miami, but was elevated to the starting role when Marino was injured in 1993. Mitchell took advantage of the opportunity, completing 133-of-233 passes for 1,773 yards and 12 touchdowns with eight interceptions.

© 1999 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved

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