Change is on the horizon for the Ravens, and it could begin along the offensive line. Three-fifths of the starters could be elsewhere and none may be more vital than center Matt Birk.
Signed prior to the 2009 season after Jason Brown left for a lucrative deal offered by the St. Louis Rams, Birk, 34, just wrapped up his 13th season playing on a sore left knee complicated by a swollen bursa sac that had to be drained on at least a weekly basis.
Birk, who declined to use the knee as an excuse ("You're never going to feel good, but that's part of the game," he said, adding that he would not have to undergo surgery in the offseason.), acknowledged that retirement does weigh on his mind.
"I think I have to go home and see how I feel in the next few weeks," said Birk, who has one more year remaining on his contract. "Just get away from it. I'm not going to sit down and say, 'I'm going to take 30 minutes here and make a decision.' You just go by what you feel. Obviously, this is a job, but it's a lot more than that in the sense that you can't just go through the motions. For me, it's 11½ months out of the year. I'm a football player, training and doing other things. I don't take three months off and do nothing."Unlike Birk, right tackle Marshal Yanda and right guard Chris Chester may not have the option of returning to the Ravens. Both players are unrestricted free agents and could entertain offers from other teams.
Yanda, a third-round pick in 2007, was unavailable for comment, but Chester said the franchise's belief in him would factor into his decision.
"It's going to have a definite impact on what I decide to do," said Chester, who was drafted by the Ravens in the second round in 2006. "But at the same time, I have a family, and there's a business aspect of it, and I've got responsibilities that I need to take care of outside of maybe what I would like to do than most as opposed to what needs to be done."
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