McKinnie: Returning to Ravens "is an option"

McKinnie: Returning to Ravens "is an option"
April 9, 2013, 1:45 pm
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Former Ravens offensive tackle Byrant McKinnie said on Tuesday that he's definitely still open to returning to the team but doesn't expect any action on a possible new deal until after the draft. He also stressed that he wants to be a starter again.

Speaking to WNST Radio, McKinnie, who became a free agent after the season, said he and his agent have been in contact with the Ravens as well as "a few other teams," but as of now, there have been no takers. Returning to the Ravens, McKinnie said, "is an option. We're just trying to work some things out."

McKinnie added that, "I think they probably want to see what they get out of the draft and then maybe go from there."

Most draft experts agree that the top three tackles in the draft -- Luke Joeckel from Texas A&M, Eric Fisher from Central Michigan and Lane Johnson from Oklahoma -- will be long gone by the time the Ravens make the 32nd pick. So the chances of the Ravens grabbing a plug-and-play left tackle aren't very good unless they make a trade to move way up in the draft, something they are unlikely to do.

One thing working against McKinnie is his age: He will be 34 in September, and the Ravens have spent this offseason getting younger and faster. Barring other veteran additions, McKinnie would be the oldest player on the team.

McKinnie spent the past two seasons with the Ravens, but his 2012 season didn't go smoothly. He reported late to camp and then was nearly cut before the season began, but at the eleventh hour accepted a restructured contract that amounted to a $1 million pay cut. This came after McKinnie had to have his wages garnished to help pay off a loan.

The Ravens kept McKinnie, but McKinnie didn't keep his starting job. He spent the entire regular season as a backup, playing primarily on special teams. That was a major adjustment for a player who had not missed a start because of injury in nine seasons.

Before the playoffs, though, the Ravens inserted McKinnie into the starting lineup at left tackle, and he held that spot throughout the playoffs. Michael Oher shifted to right tackle, and former right tackle Kelechi Osemele moved to left guard, which had been a problem spot all season. The revamped offensive line was a major reason for the Ravens' Super Bowl run. Quarterback Joe Flacco threw 11 touchdowns and no interceptions in the postseason and frequently credited the line play for his success.

McKinnie, who has spent his share of time in coach John Harbaugh's doghouse, told WNST that if he does return to the Ravens, he wants assurances that he can compete for a starting job.

"I definitely want a starting job," he said.

"Give me the opportunity that would actually be fair," he added, "and let somebody beat me out for the position."