We've stated here before that if big left tackle and free agent Bryant McKinnie decides to re-sign with the Ravens for 2013, the team would be immediately stronger and in a greater position going into the Draft.
There's only one hitch.
McKinnie, or "Moby Grape" as we call him, wants to be assured he is the team's starting left tackle from the get-go...and this time he is not giving away a home-team discount on his contract, as he has done before.
Assuming the big guy is in good shape and stays in shape prior to OTA's and training camp, I think it's a no-brainer---sign the guy, pay the guy and respect him with the 1st string label.
Having McKinnie on board and happy will open up so many levels of assurance and depth on the Ravens' offensive line. It would also give Ozzie Newsome a lot more freedom and creativity in seeking out the best players available in the Draft to strengthen other facets of the team.
"I definitely want a starting job," McKinnie said during an April 9th interview with WNST. "I want it to be fair for somebody to beat me out of my position instead of saying you want to try something new. Give me the opportunity to actually be fair and let somebody beat me out for the position."
After starting all 16 games in his first year in Baltimore, McKinnie lost his starting job in 2012 after he reported to training camp late and out of shape. He was nearly cut – McKinnie even tweeted about his time being up in Baltimore – but then suddenly accepted a restructured contract with a reported $1 million pay cut.
McKinnie didn't start again until the playoffs began and was credited as a major factor behind quarterback Joe Flacco's Super Bowl run.
The lovely Sarah Ellison of the Ravens' NFL.com website got ahold of the WNST interview with McKinnie, then added some more beef to the story.
Sarah Ellison, BaltimoreRavens.com
In her "Late For Work" column, Ellison added these backstory details:
On the eve of free agency in March, McKinnie declared that the Ravens needed to buy insurance for Flacco, but wasn't interested in taking a hometown discount. But almost a month later, the tackle market is at a standstill.
Free agent Eric Winston, who is rated ahead of McKinnie on ESPN's free agency tracker and is four years younger, said on Sirius XM NFL Radio that free agency is "frustrating" because he can't get anything in the $3 to $4 million range. One wonders how far under $3 million teams are offering Winston, and by extension, McKinnie.
That answer likely won't come until after April 27.
"Coming back there is an option; we are just trying to work some things out," McKinnie said, noting that he's spoken to a few other teams.
"I think [the Ravens] probably want to see what they get out of the draft and then maybe go from there," he added.
Thank you for the report, Sarah. I guess what we're seeing here is the Ravens using the "optimal delay" theory of decision-making on McKinnie and the overall "left tackle market" in general.
It's just a little frustrating to some Ravens fans to have to wait and wonder why they don't have left tackle (Flacco's "blind side" protector) locked down in a stable situation. I don't think most Ravens fans relish the idea of starting a rookie at LT, either, let alone moving Michael Oher back to the left side.
Why mess with something that worked so well on a championship run? Pay the big guy, stabilize the position, and stock "deep depth" on the OL from there...