This week Brian McIntyre of NFL.com said that, considering the Baltimore Ravens' terrible cap situation, left tackle Bryant McKinnie could end up being cut from the team. Though the Ravens can use all the depth they can get at offensive tackle, there are enough red flags about McKinnie that could result in him no longer being a Raven.
It's not entirely about the money. The Ravens have just over $600,000 in cap space left and cutting McKinnie, who is owed $3.2 million this year, will certainly help them. They need to tender long-term deals with running back Ray Rice, quarterback Joe Flacco and likely safety Ed Reed before 2012 has wrapped, so that $3.2 million will be put to good use.
But the reason why McKinnie has found himself on the roster bubble is his conditioning and his weight. This is something McKinnie has struggled with for his entire NFL career. He was cut just last year by the Minnesota Vikings for showing up to training camp weighing nearly 400 pounds and was held out of Ravens' minicamp this year for reasons relating to his weight.
At 360 or 365 pounds, McKinnie is just 10-15 pounds away from what he claims is his target weight this year, but the Ravens want him to slim down (relative terms, I know) to 345. Though he'll likely do the work to get that done, this constant battle with McKinnie to get up to speed with his conditioning is frustrating and does speak to his discipline.
But the other issue is that McKinnie wasn't all that effective as a left tackle last season. Pro Football Focus has him ranked as their 52nd-best tackle in the NFL of 76 listed (subscription required) and though the team had the 8th-best offensive line in 2011 (no subscription required) McKinnie was by far their worst representative.
For a left tackle, McKinnie's run blocking is horrendous and his pass blocking certainly leaves one wanting, as he gave up seven sacks, nine hits and 29 quarterback hurries last season all while racking up seven penalties.
McKinnie gets a bit of a pass simply because he's on a line anchored at the right by tackle Michael Oher, who allowed an astounding 10 sacks, seven hits and 43 hurries while being penalized 11 times. But being slightly better than Oher isn't a compliment, and the Ravens would be well-served to try to upgrade at both tackle positions as best they can with the talent they have currently on the roster.
Should the Ravens consider cutting McKinnie?
At minicamp, Oher filled in for McKinnie on the left and Jah Reid stepped in on the right. Without McKinnie, Oher may stay on the left, which doesn't sound like much fun.
Rookie Kelechi Osemele might be able to step in depending on how he looks at camp, and the Ravens, now with sufficient cap space, could look to the waiver wire and hope they come up with someone better than when they did that last year and added McKinnie.
Considering the Ravens' offensive line depth, it doesn't seem incredibly likely that McKinnie will be released, unless his conditioning issues persist. The Ravens do need to create cap space, and it's clearly looking like McKinnie hasn't learned any lessons since being released from the Vikings last year.
McKinnie is certainly not a long-term solution at left tackle for Baltimore, but they may just have to grin and bear one more season with him as a starter. He should consider himself lucky should he keep his job.