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Birk plans to return next season, not retire

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(Credits: Ben Liebenberg/AP Photo)

Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk plans to return for the 2012 season after strongly considering retirement, according to his agent, Joe Linta.

Birk, 35, decided to comeback for a 14th NFL season after weighing his options following the Ravens’ 23-20 defeat to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.

“Matt feels great,” agent Joe Linta told the Carroll County Times on Saturday. “The Ravens want him back. We’re going to try to work something out with the Ravens before free agency starts.”

Birk is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent March 13, so the Ravens and Birk will have to work out a contract for next season. Birk said this offseason that he would either play another season for the Ravens or retire.

Because center Andre Gurode is also a free agent, the Ravens don’t have another center on the team, but the team is expected to shore up the position either through free agency or the draft.

Birk has started every game at center for the Ravens over the pass three seasons and has started 97 consecutive games overall.