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Despite Ravens' interest in Winston, McKinnie says that he'll be back

Left tackle was in Baltimore yesterday for meeting with team officials

By Jeff Zrebiec

7:00 AM EDT, March 16, 2012

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Ravens left tackle Bryant McKinnie flew to Baltimore yesterday to meet with team officials and apparently got the answers that he was seeking.

"Raven Fans, I was n Baltimore 2day, 2 confirm that ill be there next season," McKinnie said last night on his Twitter account.

Was it even a question whether he was coming back?

It may not have been much of one a couple of weeks ago as the Ravens don't have another experienced left tackle on their roster unless you count Michael Oher. But news that Eric Winston, a standout right tackle who was surprisingly cut by the Houston Texans earlier this week, is expected in town this weekend for a visit with the team certainly spurred some speculation that McKinnie's days with the Ravens could be numbered.

The thought was that if Winston signed, the Ravens could move Michael Oher from right to left tackle. The timing of Winston's visit also adds to the drama.

McKinnie, who started all 18 games for the Ravens this past season, is due a $500,000 roster bonus by Saturday. How much would a commitment from Winston that same day affect things? 

McKinnie's comments on Twitter last night would lead one to believe that he's been told that the roster bonus will be paid and he'll be back. The Ravens don't comment on contract decisions, but I can say that as of last night, the bonus hasn't been picked up. Of course, the Ravens don't have to do it until Saturday so perhaps it's a moot point.

There's also no guarantee that the Ravens will ever have the opportunity to meet with Winston. He is a highly-coveted free agent and he's already had visits with the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs, and he reportedly has a couple of more scheduled with the St. Louis Rams and Detroit Lions. He was in Kansas City as of last night and the NFL Network reported that that Chiefs officials were working hard to get a deal done with him.

If nothing else, Ravens officials undoubtedly wanted to get McKinnie, who has long fought conditioning issues, into the building to see what kind of shape he was in before making the roster bonus decision. They must have liked what they saw.  

In assessing his day visit to the team's facility, McKinnie said on Twitter: "Just took care of some business."