Return Of McKinnie Means Ravens Won't Have To Worry About "The Blind Side"
By Cian Fahey
Although he had been flirting heavily with the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins this week, the Baltimore Ravens were able to re-sign LT Bryant McKinnie to a two year-deal.
McKinnie's market was heating up after a number of teams failed to land their ideal blindside protectors in the NFL Draft. Even though he only started during the playoffs last year because of an injury to Jah Reid, the soon-to-be 34-year-old will give the Ravens some much-needed comfort entering the season.
McKinnie's problems have rarely been his play on the field during his time with the Ravens, but injury issues delayed his arrival at training camp last year and he wasn't healthy in time to be the starter during the regular season. Fortunately for him, Michael Oher proved to be incapable of playing the left tackle position effectively enough to earn the starting spot for the long-term. Once Oher returned to the right side in the playoffs – excelling like he had during his first stint at the position – and Kelechi Osemele proved to be a perfect left guard, it was clear that the Ravens needed someone else to play opposite Oher and alongside Osemele.
Had McKinnie not re-signed in Baltimore, the Ravens would likely have been forced to move Osemele to left tackle, with Reid manning left guard. That would mean Baltimore would be entering next season with very inexperienced starters at left tackle and center. For a team that had just given their quarterback a historic new contract, it was hardly an ideal scenario.
If McKinnie can stay healthy for at least one season, it will buy the Ravens enough time to draft or develop his replacement. Osemele could potentially slide into his spot after this coming season, but in a perfect world they will find a new left tackle in next year's draft. McKinnie isn't far from a perfect starting left tackle, but he is familiar with the scheme and situation in Baltimore, so he is the right addition at this stage of the offseason.
Had they failed to re-sign him, the Ravens faced the prospect of being held to ransom by the Kansas City Chiefs for Branden Albert. Albert is the only legitimate starting option left for teams without a left tackle on their roster. The Chiefs should be able to get very good value for him now if more than one team looks to acquire him. Ozzie Newsome isn't one to be caught in those battles of desperation and made sure he wasn’t involved in one when he locked up McKinnie.