The rocky tenure of Bryant McKinnie in Baltimore ended Monday when the Ravens unloaded him to the Miami Dolphins, trading the demoted veteran left offensive tackle in exchange for a conditional late-round draft pick.
The Ravens shed a frequently overweight 6-foot-8, 360-pound blocker who graded out poorly this season in five starts prior to being replaced in the starting lineup by new left tackle Eugene Monroe. The one-time Pro Bowl lineman failed to earn any of his weekly $6,250 weight bonuses this season because he never made his target weight of 346 pounds.
By trading him to the Dolphins, the Ravens granted McKinnie his wish by returning the 34-year-old to South Florida where he played collegiately at the University of Miami and lives in the offseason. The Ravens explored the trade market for McKinnie for the past few weeks since acquiring Monroe in a trade from the Jacksonville Jaguars with just a few teams expressing interest, according to league sources.
"It's a good move for us," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "It's a good move for Bryant. I'm happy for Bryant. It's a good opportunity for him, more than anything. That's the most important thing. It's just an opportunity to go down there and play and do well."
In a text message to The Baltimore Sun, McKinnie affirmed that he's happy with the trade.
And his agent, Michael George, added: "It's a good opportunity for him. This should be a positive change for Bryant and he's very excited."
The Ravens gave up on McKinnie following a series of poor performances, months removed from a successful four playoff games during their Super Bowl run last season. McKinnie allowed one sack, 15 quarterback pressures and four quarterback hits and was penalized twice this season, according to Pro Football Focus, which ranks him 66th among NFL tackles.
The Ravens are no longer responsible for a two-year, $6.3 million contract that included a $2 million signing bonus, gaining $588,235 in immediate salary-cap savings. They'll hold $1 million in dead money in 2014, but his $2 million base salary is off the books for next season.
The Dolphins have struggled mightily to protect quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who has already been sacked 26 times. And McKinnie could wind up replacing struggling offensive tackle Tyson Clabo.
"We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the Ravens for Bryant," Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland said in a statement about the former Hurricanes All-American and Outland Trophy winner. "He's a proven and experienced player who will be a great addition to the offensive line."
McKinnie's weight was a frequent issue with the Ravens, repeatedly reporting overweight for training camps and minicamps. He got up to 386 pounds during the NFL lockout in 2011 and was cut by the Minnesota Vikings before joining the Ravens.
McKinnie was often in the headlines for the wrong reasons, including multiple lawsuits for financial debts.
In late September, wide receiver Jacoby Jones was struck in the head with a bottle on a party bus while celebrating McKinnie's birthday.
With McKinnie gone, rookie fifth-rounder Rick Wagner is the top backup tackle.
The Ravens now have an open roster spot. Blocking tight end Billy Bajema was released Saturday and remains available to be re-signed.
In his starting debut since being placed on the active roster, weak-side inside linebacker Jameel McClain recorded five tackles.
McClain replaced Josh Bynes in the lineup after Bynes had surgery to clean out an infected finger. It was his first game since suffering a spinal cord contusion last December.
"I thought he played a good game," Harbaugh said. "Given the circumstances, probably played really well. Hadn't played in a long time, hadn't practiced much, was thrown into a situation because of Josh's situation where he had to play quite a few snaps. He did a solid job, and he's only going to get better from here on out. He came out of it healthy, so that's important."
Left offensive guard Kelechi Osemele isn't a lock to undergo offseason back surgery, according to Harbaugh.
Osemele was evaluated prior to the season and it wasn't recommended that he undergo surgery and no procedure is currently planned at this time, according to a source.
Harbaugh said it remains undetermined if Osemele, who was forced out of the Miami game with back spasms, will require surgery.
"He's a tough guy, fights through a lot of different things," Harbaugh said. "He had the same issue last year and he fought through it last year. All those things get addressed in the offseason. They get addressed if they're needed to be addressed.
"We looked at it last year, and it wasn't addressed that way. So, maybe this year it will be, but I really don't know. K.O. is tough, man."
No serious injuries were reported from the Ravens' loss to the Steelers.
"We've got different bumps and bruises and things that we will attempt to heal up this week," Harbaugh said. "From that standpoint, we probably are in a positive mode going forward here into the bye week."
Disappointed in special teams
It was a glaring sequence for the Ravens' kickoff team on wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders' 44-yard kickoff return where he stepped out of bounds at the Steelers' 37-yard line.
Reserve safety Jeromy Miles, acquired off waivers from the Cincinnati Bengals to be a major contributor on special teams got blocked. And so did linebacker Albert McClellan, fullback Kyle Juszczyk and safety Michael Huff.
In particular, Huff and wide receiver Deonte Thompson failed to provide outside containment after lining up closest to the sideline. Huff was easily blocked and didn't do a good job as he failed to fight through a block.
"We're going to go find some guys that want to play special teams," Harbaugh said. "We're not going to have guys out there letting the ball run outside of them. That's unheard of. If it means changing people out, then that's what we'll do."