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Veteran center Matt Birk said he won’t throw a wrench into the Ravens’ offseason by waiting too late to choose whether he retires.
But, he does need some time away from football before he decides if he will return for a 14th season.
Birk said he understands that the Ravens would need a decision from him regarding his future as the offseason progresses, but a potentially-expiring collective bargaining agreement makes the coming months “unusual.”
“This is an unusual year with the collective bargaining agreement, but I’m not going to hang them out to dry,” Birk told BaltimoreRavens.com this week. “My guess is that something will get done [with the CBA] before next year. We’re not going to miss games or the season. There is just too much at stake for all those involved.
“So when the time comes to make a decision, we’ll see how I feel and go from there.”
After starting all 16 games for the Ravens, in addition to two playoff contests, Birk will consider his health and family situation.
The six-time Pro Bowler, who has five children with his wife, Adrianna, finished the 2010 campaign on a knee that swelled so often it had to be drained once a week.
“I really want to be a part of it, but I have to make sure I can heal up and that it’s the right decision for my family,” Birk explained. “I don’t have a time frame right now. I know I’ll have to make the decision, but for the moment, I’m just trying to be a dad, husband and regular joe. That’s all I am at the end of the day.”
Birk never missed any time, gritting his teeth each week against some of the NFL’s best interior defensive linemen.
Without Birk the Ravens would need to add another center through the draft or free agency.
Current backup center Chris Chester could hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent if a new CBA is reached.
“I’m trying to heal up and see how I feel,” said Birk, who noted that he had no offseason surgeries scheduled. “It always takes a little while after the season to feel right again. This season, it’s taken a little longer than other ones, just because of some specific bumps and bruises I got along the way.
“I’ll wait until I heal up and then wait to make the decision. If I don’t heal up, the decision is made for me.”