Baltimore Ravens Make the Right Decision by Re-Signing Bryant McKinnie
The Baltimore Ravens have shown no hesitation to part ways with veterans from this year's championship team. However, that has proven to not be the case with left tackle Bryant McKinnie, who has agreed to a two-year deal.
This deal was completed after McKinnie began receiving contract offers from the Chargers, Cowboys and Dolphins. This negotiation tactic was a typical one from general manager Ozzie Newsome, who allowed McKinnie to test the open market and agreed to a new deal once he gained interest.
Quite frankly, this was a move that absolutely needed to be completed. McKinnie's performance in this past postseason spoke volumes as to how effective he can be when he is motivated and in physical shape. John Harbaugh and the Ravens coaching staff did not guarantee McKinnie any starting position last year, and he did not receive the opportunity until an injury to guard Jah Reid forced a shift in the offensive line.
However, from that point forward, McKinnie anchored an offensive line that limited some of the dynamic defensive fronts in the game such as Denver and San Francisco. The addition of McKinnie allowed Michael Oher to be an effective run-blocker on the right side and Kelechi Osemele to dominate at offensive guard.
Certainly McKinnie's work ethic will be a topic of discussion as training camp approaches. The Ravens showed last year that he won't be guaranteed any starting position during the summer, much less in live game action.
However, the fact that the Ravens retained McKinnie shows their belief that he will be committed to staying in shape and ultimately providing a significant upgrade to the pass protection for Joe Flacco. The offensive line now appears to be one of the more solid units heading into camp.
While there still remain questions as to who will replace Matt Birk at center next year, that position will very likely be an open competition with second-year center Gino Gradkowski leading the battle. It wouldn't be a shocker if Baltimore took a gamble on a cheap veteran option if the young talent doesn't emerge during the preseason.
Nonetheless, the return of McKinnie provides hope that the offense that showed up for Baltimore during their championship run could carry the momentum into 2013.
Matt Miselis is an NFL Featured Columnist for BleacherReport.com. Follow him on twitter @MattMiselisNFL.
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