The Baltimore Ravens have needed a center since Matt Birk's retirement following the 2012 Super Bowl championship season. Gino Gradkowski stepped in for the 2013 campaign, but struggled mightily. Gradkowski proved he wasn't fit to be the starting center, so the team traded for Jeremy Zuttah. Zuttah was serviceable during his first season, but fell off a cliff over the next two years. Zuttah was traded to the San Francisco 49ers this offseason, and now the team is bringing in a savvy Pro Bowl veteran for a visit as a possible replacement.
According to a source telling ESPN's Jamison Hensley, free agent center Nick Mangold is visiting the Ravens.
Seven-time Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold is visiting the Ravens, according to a source. Mangold, who was released... https://t.co/u0m7Df5Wml— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) April 5, 2017
The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec later responded to Hensley and confirmed the visit. He reported that Baltimore is bringing in Mangold to see how healthy he is after an injury depleted 2016 season that saw him miss eight games with an ankle injury. The New York Jets released him on February 25th. Below is Zrebiec's tweet:
@jamisonhensley Can confirm this: Ravens want to check out where Mangold is health-wise.— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiecsun) April 5, 2017
The only other team reportedly showing interest in Mangold's services, the New York Giants.
It has been a very quiet market for the seven-time Pro Bowler and leader of the New York Jets for 11 years. This visit with the Ravens is Mangold's first since he was released by New York.
With Mangold's ankle injury coupled with his age, 33 years old, it's smart for the Ravens to check if Mangold is physically ready to go. If he checks out, it will be wise of general manager Ozzie Newsome to strike a deal with Mangold considering the team doesn't have much at the position, and the draft isn't strong when it comes to centers. It was only two years ago Mangold started 15 games and was sent to the Pro Bowl, there is reason to believe he still has something left in the tank. He is a tough, hardnosed player who will also add strong leadership. For an extra bonus, Mangold was cut by the Jets, which means signing him wouldn't hurt the Ravens when it comes to compensatory picks.
A day after the Ravens traded Timmy Jernigan to move up 25 spots in the 3rd round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the team is now looking at a possible improvement to an offensive line that desperately needs it. Mangold would certainly add to a position Baltimore has struggled with over the last four years.