Giving an overweight offensive tackle with a checkered past a two-year contract worth up to $7.5 million with $1 million guaranteed would certainly be characterized as a risk.
But given the current makeup of the Ravens’ offensive line, it was a risk that GM Ozzie Newsome felt he needed to make.
In signing former Vikings tackle Bryant McKinnie, the Ravens get a talented player who could be a stabilizing force on the edge this season. That is, if he passes his physical, gets in shape (and does so quickly) and is motivated.
Newsome is betting that he will be.
“Through the years, we’ve been fortunate to obtain players late in training camp or just before the start of the season who help us win,” Newsome said in a statement. “A couple of years ago, it was Willie Anderson. Last year, it was Josh Wilson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who each made big plays at the end of games that gave us wins.
“Bryant falls in this category. He’s been a productive player at one of the hardest positions to play, and he has been in sync with Matt Birk when Matt was a Viking. Plus, he has a relationship with Michael Oher and our Miami players. Ray (Lewis) and Ed (Reed) vouch for him as a person and as a player who can help us. I know these veteran players are happy we’re adding Bryant.”
Those seem like the comments of someone who knows that this move will be questioned throughout the fan base and the media. You didn’t hear the Ravens’ GM saying that any of his players needed to “vouch” for fullback Vonta Leach or wide receiver Lee Evans, both of whom were acquired within the last month.
The Ravens are listing McKinnie at 345-lbs., which is 10-lbs. heavier than his playing weight last season. It’s also 55-lbs. lighter than the 400-lbs. at which he was reportedly nearing less than three weeks ago when he was released by the Vikings.
Did McKinnie cut 55-lbs. in the last few weeks? I don’t think so. But the Ravens hope that he’ll get his way down to playing weight in the coming weeks and months.
Lewis says he trusts that McKinnie will do what it takes to be ready when the Ravens need him.
“Some people look for speed, some people look for youth,” Lewis said. “But give me heart, wisdom and the will to play and win the game, and I will take that player on my side any day of the week. That is what Bryant has. I have played against him, and I know from experience how tough he is. He has a proven track record as a winner, and he is a Raven. He is one of us, and I know he will make us better.”
Hopefully, the All-Pro linebacker is right. Otherwise, the Ravens will be out a big chunk of change, and will still be searching for a way to keep Joe Flacco standing upright.