BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 11: The Pittsburgh Steelers offense lines up against the Baltimore Ravens during the first half of the season opener at M&T Bank Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
As we all know the Ravens have an immediate need at guard. They lost Ben Grubbs to New Orleans and shortly there after were rejected by Eagles guard Evan Mathis, who elected to return to Philadelphia. The Ravens are thought to be targeting the draft to to bring in depth to the offensive line and possibly try and draft a starter as well. But why gamble on unproven players when there may be proven NFL talent available at a discounted rate? Looking around the league, one name should stick out to Ravens fans over the rest. Former Raven Jason Brown.
Brown started all 16 games at guard in the 2007 season in Baltimore after spending 2005 and 2006 as a backup to starter Mike Flynn. He later started all 16 games in the 2008 season as center. He was considered to be one of the best offensive lineman coming into Free Agency the following season.
Brown logged 90 starts for St. Louis and Baltimore over the last six seasons, but in the past year, Brown has been benched by the Rams' previous coaching staff, released by its new leadership and left unsigned through three weeks of free agency. It was widely thought that Brown, along with others on the Rams offensive line, lost interest in the team after a disappointing season. Some analysts thought that Brown's mind was on other things rather than football last season.
Brown was, by all accounts, a hard worker and dedicated player in St. Louis. He was also an increasingly reflective one after the Iraq War claimed his brother in 2003. Last season, Brown touched upon how his brother's death affected his outlook toward football. -Mike Sando ESPN.com
"I question how much attention is given to football," Brown told ESPN's Seth Wickersham for a profile "But it's tough. It's a huge machine that I'm benefiting from."
The Rams made signing Brown a top priority when Steve Spagnuolo was taking over as head coach in early 2009. They called him minutes into the free-agent signing period and signed him to a deal averaging $7 million per season with an $11 million signing bonus. Brown started the next 40 games at center, but with the 2011 season having slipped away, the Rams moved him to the bench following a Week 9 overtime defeat at Arizona..
Brown finished the 2011 season as a starter at guard, but only because injuries forced the Rams to adjust their lineup. The Rams subsequently released Brown, who would have earned $5 million in salary for 2012.
Brown is scheduled to meet with the San Fransisco 49ers. He could be a bargain for the 49ers. He stands 6-foot-3, weighs 328 pounds and would give the team reliable insurance if Daniel Kilgore does not develop into a starter at right guard. Brown could also play center if needed, and his price tag would be far lower than it was when the Rams signed him back in 2009.
It brings the question of why the Ravens have shown no interest in bringing Brown in for a visit, at least to see where his head is. Maybe the team has some inside information as to why he fell out of favor in St. Louis. Maybe he fell out of favor with the Ravens when he left for St. Louis in the first place. However, if there was some sort of problem with him I'm sure the Harbaugh brothers would keep all lines of communication open on a player and Jim Harbaugh would be just as wary of signing him as John would.
Maybe getting back to a winning environment would get his head back in the game. With his ability to play both guard and center he could start in place of Grubbs and back up Matt Birk if need be. Baltimore could still draft and groom a young guard or center and there would be no need to start that player prematurely. At least it could be worth a meeting considering the state of the offensive line in Baltimore.