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Chester A Bigger Priority Than Gaither?

The NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora thinks Chris Chester is critical to offensive line depth.

Posted by Mike Duffy on Monday, February 28th, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Categories: Mike Duffy

Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh has said that he wouldn’t mind having Jared Gaither on his roster again, but the status of the massive offensive tackle is in questions.

But could the versatile Chris Chester be even more of a priority for the Ravens?

NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora thinks it’s a possibility, as Chester brings the ability to play guard or center. And with 13-year veteran Matt Birk finishing out the 2010 campaign with a nagging knee injury, Chester is invaluable.

BaltimoreRavens.com asked La Canfora about their options moving forward with Gaither, and the longtime reporter was more concerned with Chester.

“To me, Chris Chester is a key guy,” La Canfora said from the NFL Scouting Combine. “I don’t know about Matt Birk getting through another 16 games or 18 games. Even if he’s healthy enough now, you saw the wear and tear down the stretch.

“Chester’s a guy they can plug in a lot of different places, so the overall depth of the offensive line is going to be key for them.”

La Canfora said there were recent talks between Gaither’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, and Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome, but there wasn’t any progress regarding a long-term contract.

At this point, Gaither is expected to be an unrestricted free agent should the NFL and NFL Players’ Association come to a new collective bargaining agreement.

What’s more, Harbaugh said last Thursday that re-signing Marshal Yanda, a regular guard who started all 16 games at right tackle for the Ravens last year, was a major priority regarding roster moves.

“If they can get Marshal Yanda done, we’ll see what happens with Chester, and we’ll see what happens with Gaither down the line,” said La Canfora. “Marshal’s a guy who can play tackle or guard. Frankly, he might be the best offensive tackle or guard available in free agency, depending on what you want to call him. If you can get a deal done by March 4, that would be a priority.

“I’m not sure if they’re going to be able to do that or not. But, even if he hits the open market, [the Ravens would] still be a player for his services.”

The Ravens have been pegged to take a tackle early in the draft by several draft analysts.

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