Late For Work 3/16: Lose 4th Starter? McClain To Visit Broncos

Despite rumors, McKinnie returning. Royal off market, Ginn update, competition for Winston.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Friday, March 16th, 2012 at 9:18 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Jameel McClain To Visit Broncos

Could the Ravens lose their fourth starter to free agency?

Jameel McClain will visit the Denver Broncos this afternoon, where he could potentially become the team’s new starting middle linebacker, reports the NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora.

The news of McClain’s visit comes on the heels of former Ravens starters Ben Grubbs (Saints), Jarret Johnson (Chargers) and Cory Redding (Colts) all signing with other teams.

The Broncos may opt to go another way, however. Last season’s starting middle linebacker, Joe Mays, is drawing interest from other teams and Denver could look to incumbent Nate Irving, who the club drafted in the third round last season.

As fast as signings have taken place over the first few days of free agency, the market for inside linebackers hasn’t been touched. That could be good news for the Ravens, who have expressed interest in retaining McClain.

“The free-agent market for linebackers has been slow to develop. That could result in several players – McClain, London Fletcher, Curtis Lofton and Stephen Tulloch – returning to their former teams,” wrote La Canfora.

McClain, 26, made a name for himself after the Ravens signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Syracuse in 2008. He’s been a starting linebacker next to Ray Lewis for the past two seasons.

Days before the free-agency doors burst open, McClain said the phone call he wanted to get most would be from General Manager Ozzie Newsome.

Baltimore is home,” McClain said. “It’s a great organization with a lot of great players. Staying there would be the ideal situation. We all know how this game goes. This game shakes up in many ways. It’s a business. If it was totally up to me, I would choose the Ravens. I’m hoping that phone rings for me, but there’s only one call I really want to hear.”

Despite Speculation, McKinnie Told He’ll Return

Ravens left tackle Bryant McKinnie tweeted that the Ravens had him fly in from Miami for a visit at the team’s training facility, where he “took care of some business.”

The 6-foot-8, 360-pounder confirmed he will be back next season.

The tweets came amidst reports that the Ravens will visit with the top right tackle on the market (more on that below) and speculation that they could part ways with McKinnie, 32, who is reportedly due a $500,000 roster bonus on Saturday.

A report from Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County Times said the meeting between McKinnie, who carries a $4.2 million salary-cap figure, and Newsome was “very positive.” The reporter added McKinnie has dropped some weight since the end of last season.

Asked on Twitter who will be on his right at the start of the 2012 season, McKinnie replied: “They working on that.

Ravens, Chiefs After Winston

Now more on the player whose reported ties to the Ravens caused the speculation on McKinnie:

Right tackle Eric Winston told WNST yesterday morning that that he is meeting with Ravens brass this afternoon (Friday).

After surprisingly getting cut by the Houston Texans, Winston said he wants to be on a team that “has a chance to win now and win it all.”

“That’s what you shoot for. That’s what you want. I’d be hard-pressed to go back to another rebuilding project.”

If Winston were to come to the Ravens, he would continue the team’s Miami heritage that includes Lewis, Ed Reed and McKinnie. The free agent joked that Lewis was his grandfather and Reed his dad.

If the Ravens decide to seriously pursue Winston, it appears they would have to put up a little bit of a fight.

“Sounds like the Chiefs are pretty serious about trying to keep Eric Winston in their building,” Jason La Canfora tweeted early this morning.

Royal No Longer Available For Ravens

Receiver/return specialist Eddie Royal is no longer available for the Ravens to pursue.

The former Broncos second-round draft pick chose to sign a three-year, $13.5 million deal with division rival San Diego Chargers.

It appears Royal will be San Diego’s No. 4 receiver, while also returning punts.

The Ravens were linked to Royal the first night of free agency by Scout.com’s Aaron Wilson, who said the team was “interested” in the 25 year old.

What’s Up With Ginn?

Along with Royal, the Ravens were linked to another receiver/return specialist in former 49er Ted Ginn Jr.

The Ravens are “thought to be seeking elite special teams players” in free agency, reported Don Banks, who said Ginn was a guy to watch.

So what’s the update on him? Not too much as far as his possible connection to Baltimore goes.

Ginn visited with the Detroit Lions yesterday afternoon, but left without a contract.

“I enjoyed myself here today,” Ginn said, per the Detroit Free Press. “A great group of coaches all the way around. As far as a commitment, it’s just a little early right now. I’m going to see my options, but I like the Lions.”

Ginn’s other options are unknown at this point. He said he doesn’t know of any other scheduled visits, but he doesn’t appear to be in a hurry as he plans “to take it slow, take my time and just stick with it.”

The speedy five-year veteran made it clear that he wants to be more than a return specialist, the role he has primarily played his first five NFL seasons.

“I want to be known as a receiver, not a specialist guy, not a punt returner, kickoff returner,” Ginn said. “I want to be known as an actual receiver, and that was some of the things that they expressed in here for me today that I enjoyed.

“I’m six years in now. I just want to be able to just be a receiver, and special teams is given.”

If the Ravens were interested in Ginn, he could potentially compete for the No. 3 receiver position left vacant by Lee Evans.

Mathis Dishes On Ravens Visit

The Ravens reportedly dined with the man who could potentially fill the hole in the offensive line left by Grubbs when he signed with the Saints.

Wilson spoke with guard Evan Mathis prior to his dinner with Ravens brass last night, and confirmed that a deal has not been struck.

“I think it’s a good fit,” Mathis told Wilson. “We had a good meeting.”

Asked if a deal is imminent, Mathis said: “We’re not at that point yet.”

Widely considered the best guard left on the market, the 30 year old started 15 games for the Philadelphia Eagles last season and was one of the “pleasant surprises” of the year.

“Picked up in one of their least-trumpeted offseason transactions, he stepped into the starting left guard job in training camp and performed as one of the top guards in the entire league,” wrote ESPN’s Dan Graziano. “The Eagles would like to have him back.”

Mathis was a third-round draft pick from Alabama, the same alma mater as Newsome, who is also a close family friend.

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