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The Ravens have agreed in principle to a two-year deal with offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie, pending him passing a physical tomorrow.
McKinnie, 31, was a dominant force for the Minnesota Vikings during the past nine seasons. The former first-round pick has started 131 games during that time.
He was cut by Minnesota after reporting to training camp overweight following the lockout.
McKinnie weighed in at nearly 400 pounds, according to reports. He was originally placed on the non-football injury list and released on Aug. 3. McKinnie was listed at 6-foot-8, 335 pounds last season.
The Ravens are initially listing McKinnie at 345 pounds, indicating he has been shedding weight since being waived.
“He’s been a productive player at one of the hardest positions to play and he has been in sync with Matt Birk when Matt was a Viking,” Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome said.
“Plus, he has a relationship with Michael Oher and our Miami players. Ray [Lewis] and Ed [Reed] vouch for him as a person and as a player who can help us. I know these veteran players are happy we’re adding Bryant.”
Lewis speaks highly of his fellow Miami Hurricane, who was the seventh-overall pick in 2002.
“Some people look for speed, some people look for youth. But give me heart, wisdom and the will to play and win the game, and I will take that player on my side any day of the week,” Lewis said.
“That is what Bryant has. I have played against him, and I know from experience how tough he is. He has a proven track record as a winner, and he is a Raven. He is one of us, and I know he will make us better.”
It’s unknown whether the Ravens intend to use McKinnie on the left side or right.
Michael Oher is in his second year on the blind side after playing right tackle as a rookie. Rookie third-rounder Jah Reid and newly-signed veteran Mark LeVoir have been the main combatants at right tackle.
The Ravens pulled off a similar move in 2008 when they signed veteran Willie Anderson on Sept. 5 to play right tackle. He started 11 games and played in 14, helping Baltimore finished ranked No. 4 in the league in yards per game.
Last year, Baltimore traded for cornerback Josh Wilson late in the preseason and signed wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh a week before their first game.
“Through the years we’ve been fortunate to obtain players late in training camp or just before the start of the season who help us win,” Newsome said. “Bryant falls in this category.”