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Late For Work 3/19: Broncos May Not Need McClain After All

Ginn an ‘intriguing’ possibility. Why Mathis chose Eagles. McKinnie-Winston rumors peculiar.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Monday, March 19th, 2012 at 9:10 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Broncos May Not Need McClain After All

The Denver Broncos re-signed middle linebacker Joe Mays Sunday night.

The news came days after Ravens unrestricted free agent Jameel McClain reportedly visited Denver as a candidate to become the Broncos’ starting man in the middle. An opening no longer appears available for McClain as Mays is expected to open 2012 training camp as the starter in the team’s new 4-3 defense.

That could be good news for Ravens fans who want to see McClain return to Baltimore.

Still, his availability may only be temporary.

The middle-linebacker market has been slow to develop, but that could change. McClain, 26, could still draw interest from other teams in need of a physical run-stopper, and it is unclear whether the Ravens have made him an offer.

At the NFL Scouting Combine, General Manager Ozzie Newsome simply said the team would like to have McClain back.

The Ravens have already lost Ben Grubbs, Jarret Johnson, Cory Redding, Haruki Nakamura and Tom Zbikowski to free agency.

“If they also lose Jameel McClain, who is still on the market, their run defense will certainly have suffered,” wrote CSNBaltimore.com’s John Eisenberg.

Ginn An ‘Intriguing’ Possibility

The Ted Ginn Jr. chatter got a little louder after reports surfaced that he paid a visit to the Castle in Owings Mills last Friday.

Ginn may have even bumped into receiver Torrey Smith while in the building.

Tedd Ginn sighting???” Smith tweeted Friday morning.

The former ninth-overall draft pick by the Miami Dolphins and Cam Cameron (then head coach) hasn’t lived up to pundits’ expectations as a receiver, but he could bring instant value to Baltimore as a return specialist.

“The possibility of the former first-round draft pick leaving one Harbaugh (Jim) for another (John) is an intriguing one,” wrote The Baltimore’s Sun’s Matt Vensel. “The Ravens are definitely interested in adding a return specialist this offseason.”

Ginn, 26, has returned five touchdowns in the past three seasons. Last year, he returned a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns within 59 seconds of each other against the Seahawks.

Ginn’s goal is to become more than a returner, and he is looking for the opportunity to become a legitimate receiving target again. The Ravens have an opening at their No. 3 receiving spot after parting ways with Lee Evans.

“[Ginn] also has potential as a downfield target,” wrote Vensel. “The Ravens are looking for another speedy wide receiver to stretch defenses across from Smith, and if Ginn can develop some consistency, he has the straight-line speed to blow the top off of an opponent’s coverage.”

This may be one to watch over the next few days.

We already know that a visit doesn’t guarantee a signing, as we saw last week with guard Evan Mathis (more on that below), but Ginn could be asked back next week, says WNST.

Ginn also visited the Detroit Lions earlier last week.

Why Mathis Chose Eagles Over Ravens

After leaving the team’s facility in Owings Mills Friday, Mathis told various reporters that Ravens brass offered him a nice deal and he needed time to think it over with his family. Leaving town without signing a contract was a signal that he wouldn’t return.

That proved to be true as Mathis announced the next day that he re-signed with Philadelphia for a reported five-year, $25 million contract. It is believed that the offer from the Ravens was similar in value and structure, according to the Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson.

Mathis explained his decision:

“I am very honored to have found a home with an organization as great as the Eagles,” Mathis told Wilson. “The choice was between two classy organizations and I have the utmost respect for everything Ozzie Newsome, John Harbaugh, and the Baltimore Ravens represent. They made it a tough decision but my heart was in Philly.”

An interesting side note: Mathis tweeted the picture to the right Friday night, less than 24 hours before he announced his decision.

Now the Ravens will have to move on to Plan C.

“Left guard is the biggest hole on the Ravens team,” wrote ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. “The Ravens have options, but all of them are a clear downgrade from Grubbs and Mathis.”

McKinnie-Winston Speculation Didn’t Add Up

When the Ravens decided to pick up left tackle Bryant McKinnie’s $500,000 roster bonus Friday, Hensley thought it was peculiar that the team was also reportedly set to bring in Eric Winston for a visit.

Winston, who never actually met with the Ravens because he signed with the Kansas City Chiefs Saturday, was widely regarded as the best right tackle on the market. Thus, some believed that if the Ravens signed Winston, it would trigger the release of McKinnie and move Michael Oher back to the blindside.

By picking up the option and showing a commitment to McKinnie for next season, Hensley wonders why the Ravens scheduled a meeting with Winston in the first place.

Here are his two theories:

“1. Team officials wanted to send McKinnie a message,” wrote Hensley. “The reports of Winston’s visit came out the day before McKinnie’s meeting with team officials in Baltimore. McKinnie, whose weight has been an issue throughout his career, had a “very positive meeting” and agreed to participate in the team’s conditioning program, according to the Carroll County (Md.) Times.

“2. There was no scheduled visit with Winston. I don’t buy into an outside-the-box idea of moving either Oher or McKinnie to left guard. The Ravens [were] trying to sign free agent Evan Mathis for that spot.”

Hensley says he is open to other theories as the dots don’t seem to connect.

Quick Hits

  • LWebb21: We lost some great soldiers in free agency! But we still have @RealJimmySmith, Cary Williams, Ed Reed, Bernard Pollard, @Dgorrer36, @ChykieBrown and Emmanuel Cook! [Twitter]

 

  • Zbikowski officially signed his three-year, $5.5 million contract with the Indianapolis Colts over the weekend.  Wrote Wilson: “The Ravens stayed in touch with Zbikowski and had some interest in having him back, according to his agent, Ralph Cindrich. [Carroll County Times]
  • Two other receivers some had thought would fit in Baltimore … Mario Manningham agreed to a two-year deal with the 49ers and Brandon Lloyd agreed to a three-year deal with Patriots. [ProFootballTalk.com, NFL.com]
  • Ravens brass met for the second time with Joe Flacco’s agent, Joe Linta. While specifics weren’t revealed, Linta assured that things are “moving in the right direction.” [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Ray Rice would be honored to win the Madden NFL 13 Cover Vote on SportsNation, so vote for him.

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