The Baltimore Ravens face a massive transition at the inside linebacker spot in their 3-4 base defense. Not only has Ray Lewis rode off into retirement as a Super Bowl champ, but free agent signing and former first-round selection Rolando McClain retired as well, following his latest off-field incident.
Hopes that McClain would hit the straight and narrow while playing alongside fellow Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw have been dashed for the time being as this new-look defense finds its new form.
“For the Ravens, Ro’s being fair to them,” ‘Bama coach Nick Saban said, via the Birmingham News. “What he’s saying is that he’s not ready to play rather than them having to release him, where someone else can claim him. They can retain his rights. I think he likes the Ravens organization. I think he likes John [Harbaugh]. I think he likes Ozzie [Newsome]. He appreciates the fact that they gave him an opportunity, so I think he’s doing the right thing.”
With Newsome’s track record as one of the league’s great general managers, I’m confident in assuming he only viewed McClain as a flyer. He seemed like a suitable element in the mix for one of two starting inside backer spots given the departures of Dannell Ellerbe along with Lewis, but I can’t imagine they were counting on him to finally deliver on his first-round pedigree, even if he does upon returning to the team down the road.
In the meantime, Baltimore’s probably pretty glad Arthur Brown fell to them at 56th overall in the 2013 NFL Draft while Jameel McClain could make a decent option at ILB if he can recover from his spinal ailment. Brandon Copeland and Josh Bynes have outside shots on the depth chart while someone like Bart Scott could return to Baltimore for a cheap price.