McKinnie Salary Dispute May Be Leading To Release
CONFLICTING REPORTS REGARDING TACKLE'S STATUS
By Joe Platania
OWINGS MILLS -- The ever-changing fortunes of Ravens left tackle Bryant McKinnie altered quickly Tuesday afternoon.
Several broadcast and print reports have stated that McKinnie, one of 29 Ravens heading into the final year of his contract, was released after he declined a request to restructure his deal, one that would have originally paid him $3.2 million this year. Reportedly, the pay cut would be 50 percent, giving him $1.6 million in 2012.
Mere minutes after those reports surfaced between 12:45 and 1 p.m., more news broke that McKinnie and the Ravens were still working toward a settlement of the dispute.
Head coach John Harbaugh will speak to the media at 4 p.m. today during a press conference originally scheduled last week. The Ravens organization is not commenting until then, and there is no guarantee Harbaugh will go into any greater detail if the issue is not resolved.
The Ravens gained roughly $2 million in cap room when they released kicker Billy Cundiff during the final cutdown, putting their payroll close to $5 million less than the salary cap.
There had been speculation that the Ravens had approached McKinnie to restructure his contract so they Ravens can acquire a pass-rush specialist from another team, because of that unit's below-average preseason showing.
Linebacker Terrell Suggs, the team's all-time leading sack artist and the league's reigning Defensive Player of the Year, will miss at least half the season after having Achilles tendon surgery.
McKinnie, a University of Miami teammate of former Ravens running back Willis McGahee and current Baltimore safety Ed Reed, was drafted seventh overall during the 2002 NFL Draft and played nine seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.
The Ravens signed McKinnie, a 6-foot-8, 354-pound tackle, last August, and he started all 16 regular-season games and both postseason contests, showing slow foot speed against outside pass rushers and average technique during run plays.
McKinnie has long had a history of being overweight; conditioning problems helped keep him off the field during the spring practice season, and he failed to show up for the first few days of training camp, incurring a $30,000 daily fine.
This happened despite McKinnie having been paid what amounted to a good-faith roster bonus of $500,000 in March and a $1.5 million performance bonus shortly before that.
In early August, news surfaced that the Ravens would be garnishing half of McKinnie's 2012 pay to help repay a loan he took out to protect himself financially during the 2011 lockout.
During training camp, McKinnie -- who said he had suffered a back injury at home before reporting to camp -- failed the team's conditioning test, known for being one of the league's most rigorous.
But before camp mode ended at the Ravens' headquarters, he did work himself back onto the first-string unit, moving Michael Oher back to his normal right-tackle spot.
But if McKinnie does get released, Oher would then move back to the left side, second-round draft pick Kelechi Osemele -- more highly regarded as a guard -- would play right tackle and the team's tackle depth would be compromised.
If that switch took place, oft-injured 2010 sixth-round draft pick Ramon Harewood would then be the left-side backup. Harewood has spent both his professional seasons on injured reserve, having had surgery on both knees at one point.
Starting right guard Marshal Yanda is the only other proven tackle on the roster, having played there extensively at the University of Iowa and again in 2010 with the Ravens.
Posted Sept. 4, 2012