McClain Joins Ravens Team That Polices Its OwnPosted on April 12, 2013
NOTEBOOK: SCHEDULE DELAYED?; CONTRACT STATUS CHART UPDATED
By Joe Platania
OWINGS MILLS -- When it comes to rehabilitating Rolando McClain's image, ex-Tampa Bay quarterback and current Pro Football Talk analyst Shaun King said it best.
"He failed in Oakland," King wrote of the Ravens' newest inside linebacker, who passed his physical Friday afternoon and signed a one-year, $700,000 contract. "Oakland is like a halfway house. Baltimore is like a two-parent household with dual income."
King used an interesting choice of words, for because of a slew of off-field baggage dogging McClain -- who was not made available to the media -- parental-type discipline might be what is needed in order for the Ravens to make the most of this signing.
McClain is a cousin of former Baltimore fullback Le'Ron McClain, now with the Kansas City Chiefs, who could be a good source of information about how the Ravens police their locker room, a key component of the team with veterans such as Ray Lewis and Matt Birk having retired.
Not only that, one of McClain's new teammates is actually an old one, safety Michael Huff, who was signed to replace Ed Reed in the Ravens' secondary after Reed left for the Houston Texans during free agency.
Huff and McClain were part of a Raiders squad that, while one of the most perennially penalized teams in the league, actually cleaned up its act a bit in 2012.
Oakland was flagged for 109 accepted penalties last year -- six fewer than the Ravens -- which was its lowest number since getting hit for the same number in 2008. Two years ago, the Raiders' 163 penalties set a single-season NFL record.
But for all their on-field misbehavior, Huff and McClain were not among the team's penalty leaders during recent years; in fact, neither one was charged with a single infraction in 2012.
Most observers view the acquisition of McClain, given his character questions and glittering on-field resume, as a low-risk, high-reward move.
At the team's season-ending press conference four days after the Super Bowl, Newsome specifically mentioned the middle of the defense as the main need area.
The Ravens have signed two defensive linemen (Marcus Spears, Chris Canty), two linebackers (McClain, Elvis Dumervil) and a safety (Huff) for the purposes of fortifying that middle, Dumervil's primarily outside responsibilities notwithstanding.
Speculation will now likely center on the Ravens' offensive line needs in general and their left tackle dilemma in particular, because there has appeared to be no outward momentum toward another contract with free-agent tackle Bryant McKinnie, the recipient of a preliminary inquiry from the San Diego Chargers this week.
Baltimore is not thought to be interested in trading up in the first round for any of the three marquee left tackles in the draft, even though such a move would not cost the team as much as it used to before the rookie wage scale was implemented as part of the 2011 collective bargaining agreement.
Having played only three seasons in the NFL, the 23-year-old McClain, who the Raiders released April 5, would be the youngest free agent the Ravens have signed this offseason.
Oakland released McClain -- author of 6.5 career sacks and one interception -- primarily as a salary-cap move; he was reportedly due more than $4 million this year and nearly $6 million in 2014.
Even with a contract that totals $1.1 million with incentives, McClain's deal counts just $220,000 against the Ravens' cap this year. The Ravens currently have $3.9 million in salary-cap room, but will gain another $2.5 million from the Bernard Pollard release on June 2, putting them almost $6.5 million at that point if no other major moves are made.
Last season, the 6-foot-3, 254-pound McClain started in nine of 16 games, but he played in 14 games in 2011 and missed just one contest during his rookie season.
Against the Ravens on Nov. 11, McClain recorded two tackles as Baltimore notched a franchise-record 55 points during a 35-point blowout victory against the Raiders. Huff intercepted Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco during that game.
Perhaps McClain's best career game came during Week Three of the 2011 season when the Raiders outlasted quarterback Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets, 34-24. McClain, known as being more dominant in the run game than in pass defense, registered seven tackles and five assists during the win.
Like Dumervil before him, McClain is going to have to change his jersey number in Baltimore, because the 55 for which he is best known is currently worn by Baltimore's all-time sack leader, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs.
Dumervil wore 92 in Denver, but Haloti Ngata wears it with the Ravens, so the ex-Bronco was issued the 58 formerly worn by another Ravens great, 1997 first-round pick Peter Boulware.
SCHEDULE DELAY?: According to reports, the release of the 2013 regular-season schedule, slated for April 16, could be delayed.
NFL.com had been promoting the NFL Network telecast of the schedule release show slated for that day, but the listing has been removed from the site.
Usually, the league likes to release its schedule in advance of the annual draft, which begins April 25. If there is a delay, that gives the league only nine days to get the 256-game itinerary released before the selection meeting.
Speculation has centered on the Ravens/Orioles schedule dilemma as a possible cause for the delay.
Because the two teams could not come to an agreement on a Sept. 5 scheduling conflict, it was decided that the Ravens would play Week One on the road despite being the defending Super Bowl champions.
Another rumor is there might be an 11th-hour deal brewing for the Ravens to open at home after all, but that has proven unfounded so far.
The most likely scenario is that Baltimore would open at Denver, given the double-overtime playoff game between the two teams last year and ex-Bronco Elvis Dumervil signing with the Ravens this offseason.
AFC NORTH INFLUENCE: The nine-member Competition Committee, the body that annually recommends rule changes to the owners, now has three of its members representing AFC North Division teams.
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was named to the committee this week, joining Cincinnati head coach and ex-Baltimore defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis and Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome.
Tomlin takes the place of former Arizona head coach and ex-Ravens tight ends coach Ken Whisenhunt.
Tomlin's appointment is interesting, because numerous Steelers players have complained that the Competition Committee has put new statutes in place that have penalized the kind of hard-hitting defense Pittsburgh usually plays.
Two NFC East clubs are represented on the committee in the person of New York Giants team president/CEO John Mara and Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones, son of owner Jerry Jones.
Besides those two and the AFC North trio, the rest of the committee is composed of chairman Rich McKay (Atlanta Falcons team president), St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, Green Bay team president Mark Murphy and Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith.
BALTIMORE RAVENS CONTRACT STATUS CHART
(year indicates final season of contract; practice-squad and injured reserve players included)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
TE Billy Bajema, LB Ricky Brown, S Sean Considine, NT Ma'ake Kemoeatu, NT Ryan McBean, T Bryant McKinnie, LB Brendon Ayanbadejo, G Bobbie Williams
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
TE Ed Dickson (tendered), TE Dennis Pitta (tendered)
EXCLUSIVE-RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
LB Josh Bynes, S Omar Brown, S Emanuel Cook, S Anthony Levine, RB Bobby Rainey
2013 (28 players)
WR/RS Jacoby Jones, WR LaQuan Williams, T Michael Oher, FB Vonta Leach, NT Terrence Cody, DE Arthur Jones, CB Corey Graham, DE Michael McAdoo, RB Anthony Allen, RB Damien Berry, G Jack Cornell, G Antoine McClain, T Ramon Harewood, T David Mims, C Reggie Stephens, TE Alex Silvestro, RB Lonyae Miller, WR Tori Gurley, DL Swanson Miller, LB Albert McClellan, LB Rolando McClain, LB Spencer Adkins, LB D.J. Bryant, LB Nigel Carr, LB Bryan Hall, LB Adrian Hamilton, S James Ihedigbo, CB Chris Johnson
LB Terrell Suggs, LB Jameel McClain, CB Jimmy Smith, WR Torrey Smith, T Jah Reid, WR Tandon Doss, WR David Reed, WR Deonte Thompson, DE Marcus Spears, DE Pernell McPhee, CB Chykie Brown, QB Tyrod Taylor, K Justin Tucker, LS Morgan Cox
DT Haloti Ngata, DT Chris Canty, G/T Marshal Yanda, S Michael Huff, P Sam Koch, LB Courtney Upshaw, G Kelechi Osemele, RB Bernard Pierce, C Gino Gradkowski, S Christian Thompson, CB/RS Asa Jackson, WR Tommy Streeter, DE DeAngelo Tyson, TE Steve Watson
RB Ray Rice
CB Lardarius Webb, LB Elvis Dumervil
QB Joe Flacco