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The Ravens have lost talent this offseason, but they are holding onto at least one of their coveted unrestricted free-agents.
Baltimore re-signed inside linebacker Jameel McClain to a three-year contract on Friday. The Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson is reporting it’s worth $10.5 million.
“It’s an honor to be back, to be back a part of this organization, to be able to represent these fans, this city,” McClain said.
Before McClain signed the new deal Friday, Head Coach John Harbaugh was concerned that he might not be back.
“I probably wasn’t real confident early on because we just know what kind of a player he is,” Harbaugh said. “Our fans know how good of a player he is.”
Jameel McClain Discusses Returning
Even McClain started to prepare himself for the reality that he could leave Baltimore.
But then the market for inside linebackers was slow to develop and McClain didn’t get a big-money contract elsewhere. The 6-foot-1, 245-pound linebacker visited the Denver Broncos a week ago, but left without a contract.
“In the back of my heart, I always knew that Baltimore was home,” McClain said. “What ultimately brought me back here was the city, the organization, the players, the coaches. But more importantly, the city, the players and the coaches – it’s something that I’m familiar with.”
The Ravens have lost five unrestricted free agents this offseason, including four on the defensive ball and two starters, linebacker Jarrett Johnson and defensive end Cory Redding.
Bringing back McClain, who is still young (26) and should be entering the prime of his career, greatly helps solidify the middle of Baltimore’s defense.
McClain’s return also maintains continuity on a defense that will have new faces and a new coordinator, Dean Pees. McClain has started the past two seasons next to Ray Lewis, and he should be back there in 2012.
The former undrafted free agent recorded a career-high 84 tackles last season. He also had one sack and an interception. McClain is a physical run-stuffer with a Ravens-like work ethic and personality.
“He is a Raven. He is one of us,” Harbaugh said. “He helps define what it means to be a Raven. Look at his character, look at his story, look at what he has done. I just have so much respect for him, so much admiration for him as a person.”
McClain played an integral role when Lewis missed four games late in the season. It was then that pundits started to wonder whether McClain was Lewis’ heir-apparent.
“It was big to be able to showcase what I can do,” McClain said. “Still, at the end of the day, there are speculations on everything: ‘You did it a little bit, can you really do it?’ It’s always going to be something to keep that chip growing on your shoulder.”
Now, McClain is looking forward to at least three more years with the Ravens.
“I’m fortunate to be able to do some more years with the Ravens and hopefully end it all here with this organization,” he said.