Center Matt Birk, who was strongly considering retirement after his 14th NFL season, is interested in returning to the Ravens for the 2012 campaign.
Birk’s agent, Joe Linta, informed the Ravens of the veteran’s intentions today at the NFL scouting combine during a meeting about the contract status of another one of Linta’s clients, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.
Birk, 35, has started every game at center for the Ravens over the past three seasons and has started 97 consecutive games overall.
“He feels really good,” Linta said. “He had a great year, and him and Joe both know how close they are to getting to the Super Bowl.”
Birk, who was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year during Super Bowl weekend for his tireless work in the community, had been mulling the decision for several weeks. Ultimately, he decided he wants to return after a recent conversation with Ravens coach John Harbaugh.
“Matt and John had a good meeting, and Matt came out of it feeling good that they wanted him back,” Linta said. “Age is only a number.”
Birk is due to become an unrestricted free agent March 13 and said this offseason that he would either play another season for the Ravens or retire. Linta and Ravens officials began contract discussions today, and the hope is that a deal can be worked out soon.
Because Andre Gurode is also a free agent, the Ravens don’t have another experienced center on their roster, leading to speculation that they were targeting Wisconsin’s Peter Konz with their 29th pick in the draft.
Birk had a pretty solid season before he -- and the rest of the offensive line -- struggled in the Ravens’ two playoff games. While general manager Ozzie Newsome said Friday that Birk’s return is “up for discussion,” Harbaugh made it clear the same day that he wanted the veteran to return.
“We want to have him back if he wants to come back,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll see what he does. He got through the year healthy, and we think he can still play. We need a center, and he’s a great guy. He’s the Man of the Year. We want him back.”
The Carroll County Times first reported Birk's interest in returning.