Our old pal Mike Preston wrote a column Monday afternoon that suggested the Ravens may be ready to part ways with backup running back Willis McGahee:
According to an NFL source, the Ravens decided at their recent evaluation meetings not to bring McGahee and his $6 million in base salary back for the 2011 season.
When asked if the Ravens were going to cut McGahee, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome replied: “I have said there will be no players released before March 3.”
When asked if McGahee would be on the Ravens roster before the beginning of next season, Newsome said: “Right now, there are a lot of things that could happen before next season.”
Newsome must have been pretty good as a youngster playing dodge ball.
But we can read between the lines. The Ravens were content to pay McGahee $3.6 million as a backup last season, but it will be hard to pay him nearly double that amount in the same role in 2011.
This move would certainly be a financial-minded one, as opposed to a performance-based one. As that last line points out, McGahee’s contract balloons significantly in 2011, and $6 million is just way to much to pay for a backup. At that salary, McGahee would actually be making more than any Ravens starter aside from Ed Reed.
Willis definitely still has some gas in his tank. He was a great change-of-pace from Ray Rice in 2010, and had several highlight reel plays (touchdowns against Miami and Kansas City jump immediately to mind). The Ravens could cut him and then try to resign him at a lower salary, but the questions is whether or not Willis – who is represented by the great Drew Rosenhaus – would want to test the free agent market to see if someone will pay him starter money.
McGahee’s age – he’ll turn 30 in October – may work in the Ravens’ favor here. For an NFL running back, 30 is definitely pushing over-the-hill status. Willis though, probably added some time to his career over his last two years in Baltimore, when he was the backup to Ray Rice.
I’d love to see Willis back in purple in 2011. But with NFL running backs as “dime a dozen” as they are (it seems every year some guy we never heard of starts leaping to the forefront of the highlight reels), I would definitely rather see much of that $6 million spent elsewhere.