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Friday, April 29, 2011
Ravens VP offers glimpse into Bears talks

By Michael C. Wright

In a feature on his team’s official website, Baltimore Ravens senior vice president Kevin Byrne provided an interesting glimpse inside what transpired Thursday night during the chaotic moments of a botched trade involving the Chicago Bears.

Jimmy Smith
The Ravens say they are comfortable with their selection of cornerback Jimmy Smith.
The trade, which is being investigated by the NFL, involved the Bears offering their fourth-round pick to Baltimore in exchange for moving up from 29th to take the No. 26 spot occupied by the Ravens. In the aftermath, Bears general manager Jerry Angelo apologized profusely for an internal communications breakdown that led to the team not contacting the NFL in time to officially consummate the trade.

Here’s a breakdown of Byrne’s account:

Approximately a minute after the teams agreed to the trade -- with about two minutes remaining of Baltimore’s allotted time to make the selection -- Byrne said Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, who was essentially on two phone calls at the same time, told NFL senior director of player personnel Joel Bussert: “Joel, I’ve got them on the other phone. They’ve agreed.”

On the other phone, with Newsome on a call to the Bears, the general manager told the team, “Joel said you guys haven’t confirmed the trade.”

Turning to the other phone with Bussert on the end, Newsome then said, “Joel, they said they called. I don’t know,” before telling immediately going back to the other phone to tell the Bears, “Joel says you haven’t called, what’s going on?”

Byrne wrote that Newsome then relayed to Bussert that the Bears insisted they’d already made the call to the league which would have officially consummated the trade.

Eventually, time ran out and the Chiefs passed the 26th pick to Kansas City, who drafted receiver Jonathan Baldwin. Baltimore came back and selected Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith at 27.

After the Ravens made the pick, Byrne said he informed Newsome that the media would likely accuse the Ravens of making a mistake that led to the clock expiring and the team passing the pick.

“Oz, the Bears messed up,” Byrne said he told Newsome. “We shouldn’t have to take the hit for this.”

Newsome replied he was “not going to throw the Bears under the bus.”

But Byrne responded, “Well, how about at least explaining that we had a deal with [the Bears] and that they did not follow through with a confirmation at the last second?”

Newsome agreed to explain the situation to the media.

Meanwhile, at Halas Hall, Angelo was also under pressure to give an explanation about what had just transpired.

“Whatever you hear, Baltimore did everything the right way,” he said. “We didn’t take advantage of the time that we had to do it according to protocol. I did call Baltimore and apologize for that. I want to go on the record to say that.”

Angelo refused to get into specifics about the situation, only offering profuse apology and vague details.
What’s clear though is somewhere during that chaotic episode, the Bears failed to properly execute, which would seem inexcusable given that Angelo has been involved in the player personnel business for more than 30 years.

Baltimore still wants fourth-round compensation (which is what the team’s originally agreed to) for the botched transaction, but it’s unlikely the league will grant that. At the end of the day both teams acquired the players they coveted, making this a no-blood-no-foul situation. But I thought Byrne’s account was interesting, and wanted to share it.

If anything, the situation would make for an interesting ice breaker should the teams try again to strike another deal at some point in this draft.