After running back Ricky Williams decided to abruptly retire about a week ago, the Baltimore Ravens now have a hole to fill behind starting running back Ray Rice.
Could a Le’Ron McClain-Ravens sequel be in order?
McClain, 27, is about to become an unrestricted free agent after spending the 2011 season with the Kansas City Chiefs. Although Williams announced his retirement, the buzzing around the Ravens is that there is still a possibility Williams could return.
But if that doesn’t happen by the time free agency begins March 13, the Ravens and McClain’s agent should begin talking about a deal to bring him back to the Charm City.
A McClain signing makes all the sense in the world for the Ravens, not only would they be getting a capable backup to Rice, but they would also insure themselves if starting fullback Vonta Leach were to get injured.
It could all come down to McClain’s salary demands, however. In his final season with the Ravens in 2010, McClain carried the ball 28 times for 85 yards, and a big part of the reason as to why the halfback left Baltimore was because he wanted an expanded role as a ball carrier.
In fact, he thought he could become a featured back in a team’s offense, but it didn’t work out in Kansas City, where McClain had just 15 carries for 51 yards last season, playing mostly fullback.
I assume McClain has woken up and smelled the coffee.
But, I don’t fault him for leaving. McClain is a tough, hard-nosed competitor, and he got a chance of at least sharing the lead role with Rice in 2008 when he started 16 games and carried the ball 232 times for 902 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Last season, the Ravens had the ideal set up. The Ravens would use Rice early in the game to wear down opposing teams defenses, and then use Williams in the fourth-quarter as a change-of-pace, downhill runner.
McClain would be the logical replacement to fill that role. At the very least, he would bolster the Ravens’ short-yardage offense, which was dismal late in the regular-season and playoffs. Just imagine the 260-pound McClain rumbling behind the 260-pound Leach on third and short. Scary, right?
Because of the versatility McClain has as both a runner and a blocker, the Ravens could use Rice in a full house backfield running or receiving behind Leach and McClain as lead blockers.
It’s a perfect match for both the Ravens and McClain. He knows the offense, is familiar with offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and can co-exist with Rice.
McClain understands what the Ravens are trying to do. This a blue-collar city with a team that has a smash-mouth identity.
Every time McClain stepped on the field as a Raven from 2007 to 2010 he embodied “The Raven Way,” and a return to Baltimore would be the perfect match for both player and team.