When Ravens offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie received a 500,000 roster bonus in March, it seemed to indicate that the Ravens were willing to go another season with their returning left tackle.
Then McKinnie was held out of minicamp for conditioning purposes, leading to widespread speculation that the offensive tackle was having trouble getting his weight down. That was a major reason McKinnie was released by the Vikings last August, which ultimately led to his job with the Ravens.
The speculation continues, with NFL.coms Brian McIntyre saying McKinnie could be a salary cap casualty.
The Ravens have options at the position, McIntyre writes, and if the soon-to-be 33-year-old looks more like a planet than a left tackle when he reports to training camp, his 3.2 million base salary could make him expendable.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh was vague on the subject when asked about during minicamp.
Thats something that is an in-house type of thing right now, he said. Bryant McKinnie has done a good job, hes worked hard. Its not as simple as some of you guys want to make it. Its just a situation where we are going to do what is best for the team, what is best for Bryant. We want him here; theres no reason he wouldnt be here.
There was speculation that McKinnie, listed at 6-foot-8 and 360 pounds on the Ravens roster, was pushing 400 pounds. McKinnie denied that in an interview on WNST Radio in June, saying he left Owings Mills last month weighing 354 and was hoping to play at about 345 this season.
The Ravens do have a few options, but are they better than a 10-year veteran? For all the talk about McKinnies conditioning, he has started all 16 games in eight of the past nine years. The only games he missed in that span were while serving a four-game suspension in 2008 for violating the leagues personal conduct policy.
Assuming for a moment McKinnie is out of the picture, does Michael Oher move back to left tackle? If so, who takes over at right tackle? Jah Reid? Rookie Kelechi Osemele?
The Ravens could also look to the waiver wire after training camps begin and veterans are cut. That, after all, is how McKinnie ended up with the Ravens last season.
It is true that, especially if the Ravens dont work out new deals with Ray Rice or Joe Flacco, they have very little cap room. To make any moves, they would need to create space. Translation: Someone would need to go.
Until McKinnie takes the field and shows hes capable of running with the offense, the speculation that could be McKinnie is likely to continue.