Baltimore linebacker Albert McClellan recently returned to practice after tearing his ACL in training camp last year. However, the now 32-year-old veteran will have to compete for a roster spot in 2018.
After going undrafted in 2010, McClellan was signed by Baltimore, where he has spent his entire career since. McClellan has always provided depth at both outside and inside linebacker. Where McClellan has really earned his stripes is on special teams, both for his play and leadership.
McClellan is one of the most selfless players on the Ravens roster, often handling the dirty work that tends to go unnoticed. Throughout his career, he has totaled 166 tackles, three sacks, three pass defenses, two forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries in 90 games played. McClellan missed all of the 2017 season.
Baltimore now has a surplus of young talent at the linebacker position. The inside linebacker depth chart features C.J. Mosley, Patrick Onwuasor, Kenny Young and Bam Bradley. Outside linebacker is even more crowded with Terrell Suggs, Matthew Judon, Za’Darius Smith, Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams. Not to mention, Kamalei Correa, who the Ravens tried to convert to inside linebacker, has switched back to his natural position on the outside, while still providing emergency depth on the inside. This leaves McClellan in an awkward position this offseason.
In order to make the 53-man roster this year, McClellan will have to beat out players such as Bam Bradley and Kamalei Correa to earn his spot and prove he still belongs on the team. Bradley missed the majority of the 2017 season with a torn ACL as well and has yet to play in a real NFL game, so McClellan has the advantage there. As an undrafted rookie, Bradley flashed enough in the preseason last year to make the team. Baltimore may elect to go with Bradley for his upside and cheaper contract. Correa and McClellan are similar players, although Correa is a former second-round pick and only entering his third year. The Ravens may want to hold onto Correa and see if they can finally receive production from him.
There is always the chance of an injury opening up an extra roster spot for McClellan, and given Baltimore’s recent history with offseason injuries, it’s definitely a possibility that the linebacker position could thin out a little before the start of the season. McClellan seems to be in a tough position to make the roster this year, but as a previously undrafted player, he knows better than anyone that nothing is guaranteed and his spot must be earned.
Per Spotrac, McClellan has a cap hit of $1,450,000 for 2018. The Ravens could save $1,250,000 of salary cap space if they decided to release McClellan this summer.