Read My Lips: Derrick Mason Is NOT Retiring

Tony LombardiCorrespondent IJuly 17, 2009

PITTSBURGH - JANUARY 18:  (L-R) Derrick Mason #85 and Mark Clayton #89 of the Baltimore Ravens stand on the field dejected after their 23-14 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the AFC Championship game on January 18, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Derrick Mason will be back. In a few weeks he’ll spin a story of how he got caught up in the emotion of Steve McNair’s death and the retirement announcement was a result of that. He’ll say something to the effect that he knows McNair would want him to continue playing and that he’ll dedicate this season to his friend.

But let’s make no mistake about it this whole retirement charade is the brainchild of his agent Lamont Smith.

And it just might work. Mason could get a year added to his deal and you know what, he deserves it!

However, until he decides to return the Ravens can and will benefit from Mason’s absence. The reps normally assigned to Mason will be given to Mark Clayton, Clayton’s to Demetrius Williams, Williams’ to Marcus Smith and Smith’s to Kelley Washington.

It will enable Flacco to develop a stronger rapport with the other receivers which in turn will strengthen the depth at the position particularly when Mason returns. I did say “when” not “if.”

For those concerned about Mason, don’t be. He looked great during OTA’s and his conditioning has always been excellent. When he reports to Westminster sometime in August it will be as though he had never gone.

Well almost.

Clayton didn’t get the opportunity to get in synch with Flacco last summer primarily because Flacco rarely took snaps with the first unit. That changes this year. Maybe the pair will even develop the little idiosyncrasies that Flacco shares with Mason. The same could be said of Flacco and Williams.

Think of it this way, in basketball if you detect your opponent really favors his right, what do you do? Well, of course, you take away the right and force him to his left. If he doesn’t improve going to his left, he’ll lose. Similarly if you take Mason away from Flacco, he’s forced to go elsewhere and when that improves, so will the success of the passing game.

We’ll see you soon Derrick.

But take your time.

Tony Lombardi covers the Ravens for