Will Jameel McClain do what former Ravens inside linebacker Bart Scott did in the 2009 offseason and ship up I-95 to join his former defensive coordinator, Rex Ryan?
McClain, 26, played under Ryan in his rookie in 2008 before Ryan left to become the head coach of the New York Jets. Scott, who followed Ryan to the Big Apple, signed a six-year, $48 million deal on the first day of free agency in 2009. When Scott departed for New York, it left an opening alongside Ray Lewis in the Ravens’ 3-4 defense, which McClain promptly filled.
Now, it looks like history could be repeating itself. Scott, 32, is reportedly on his way out of New York. He is signed through the 2014 season and is scheduled to make $4.2 million in base salary next year, but Scott’s role diminished greatly in 2011, as he played just 677 snaps compared to playing over 1,000+ snaps in each of his first two seasons with the Jets.
McClain, like Scott, went from being an undrafted free agent to starting inside linebacker for the Ravens. Like Scott, McClain’s reputation has been polished by playing alongside a future Hall-of-Famer in Lewis and in the the middle of a defense that ranks among the league’s best units year in and year out.
McClain, who will become an unrestricted free agent on March 13, could be looking at a big payday in free agency.
After filling in for Lewis, who was forced to miss four games due to a right turf toe injury, McClain took over the defensive play-calling and leadership roles of the defense, as the Ravens went 4-0 during that stretch including the team’s best defensive performance of the season in a 16-6 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Thanksgiving night.
Although the Ravens have the first chance to resign McClain, time is running out, as he is scheduled to hit the open market in just six days.