The events that resulted in Ravens nearly cutting left tackle Bryant McKinnie arose from, by all appearances, a perfectly-executed squeeze play that prevented McKinnie from determining what another team would pay before having to make a decision about his future.
Appearing on The Glen Younes Show on 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore, McKinnie explained that the Ravens approached McKinnie out of the blue on Monday regarding his contract. The Ravens told McKinnie that the team isn’t sure he’s one of the top five offensive linemen on the team, and so they offered him a little more than half of the $3.2 million in base salary he was due to earn in 2012.
McKinnie balked, and he thereafter assumed that it would be only a matter of time before he was released. Especially since the Ravens told him that, if he didn’t agree to the pay cut by 4:00 p.m. ET on Monday, the Ravens would cut him.
But then came Tuesday, and McKinnie wasn’t cut. Instead, coach John Harbaugh called and told McKinnie, “You don’t want to go through the stress of moving.” Also, G.M. Ozzie Newsome called and said to McKinnie, “Let’s try to get something done.”
In the end, they did. McKinnie said he’ll make $2.2 million. He’ll also be able to earn the balance of that amount back in incentives.
Not bad for a guy who wasn’t one of the top five offensive linemen on the roster.
McKinnie sounds happy, but should he be? “It put me in a corner,” McKinnie said of the team’s maneuver.
It also prevented McKinnie from getting a peek behind Door No. 2.
Though it would have been tampering for another team to suggest to McKinnie’s agent an amount McKinnie would have received if McKinnie had hit the market, tampering in that context happens all the time. It’s called gauging the market, and agents aren’t doing their job if they don’t try to find out what another team would pay before telling the player’s current team that there will be no pay cut.
In this case, the Ravens raised the issue at the eleventh hour, giving McKinnie no viable opportunity to shop himself elsewhere.
The Ravens were fully within their rights to apply that maneuver. But it was shrewd and it was aggressive and now, assuming the incentives fall into the “not likely to be earned” category, they have another $1 million in cap space for quarterback Joe Flacco’s contract.