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Who Is The Middle Man?

Now that Rolando McClain has retired from the NFL, do the Ravens have more or less decisions to make?

Jim McIsaac

If the Baltimore Ravens had known that recently signed middle linebacker Rolando McClain was going to retire before ever even strapping on the pads for the purple and black, would they have made a run at inside linebacker Karlos Dansby? Does the team still need depth at the position? If so, has the time passed for them to sign anyone of value?

Heading into training camp the Ravens obviously had many questions surrounding the inside linebacker positions but does McClain's retirement make things clearer or more complicated for the team? Although McClain himself was a question mark, at least he had NFL experience. Now, the Ravens are left with a group of players that are overwhelmingly unproven. The only inside linebacker with any real legitimate NFL experience is Jameel McClain and he is coming off of a very serious injury.

Beyond Jameel the Ravens have Josh Bynes, Albert McClellan, converted defensive lineman Bryan Hall and rookie Arthur Brown. There has also been talk of moving second year outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw inside or possibly rookie John Simon as well. However, the Ravens have spent the entire off season preparing for another run at the Super Bowl as they completely revamped their team to adjust to today's NFL. Is this really the season to trust a group of unproven players at such an important position?

Hopefully, if all goes as planned, we will see a starting duo of Jameel McClain and Arthur Brown inside. This combination would be one of the smaller sets of linebackers in the league but the Ravens should have enough beef up front to let them use their speed to play sideline to sideline. McClain and Brown are both versatile players that can drop into coverage but neither has shown to be dominant run defenders yet. This may change but Baltimore may want someone a bit bigger to sub in on running downs. Could this be where rookie John Simon fits in with the team this season?

After all the hype it appears Rolando McClain was simply not meant to be a Raven. Hopefully he figures out whatever it is he needs to do to get his act together. Hopefully the Ravens were not counting on his contributions too much this season and hopefully the rest falls into place. For now, McClain's retirement raises more questions than it answers however.