Ravens expected to cut Willis McGahee? No surprise there

February 21, 2011|By Matt Vensel

My Baltimore Sun colleague Mike Preston put his football hat back on Monday and reported that the Ravens will likely release veteran running back Willis McGahee. According to Preston's source, the Ravens' brain trust decided during their recent evaluation meetings that they wouldn't bring back McGahee -- and his $6 million salary -- for the 2011 season.

It is hard not to see this one coming, though the potential release has little to do with his performance the past couple of seasons. Paying $6 million to a backup running back is unjustifiable, especially when you're trying to retain a Pro Bowl fullback who is willing and capable of taking on a larger role as a ballcarrier.

McGahee has been a productive player over the past two seasons, rushing for 924 yards and scoring 20 total touchdowns in that span. But Ray Rice's star has simply been brighter.

The pint-sized powerhouse had a breakout season in his second year in Baltimore, finishing second in the league in yards from scrimmage in 2009. Rice validated his big season by carrying the load again in 2010 without showing signs of breaking down.

Meanwhile, McGahee had just 100 carries this past season. If the Ravens were to keep McGahee and hand the ball to him 100 times again in 2011, he would get paid $60,000 per carry. Yeah, not going to happen.

But with 207 carries over the past two seasons and 1,541 in his career, McGahee, 29, probably still has a couple of productive years left in him. Don't be surprised if some other team gives him a chance to prove it in a more evenly-distributed ball-carrying committee.

And good for him. McGahee was a team player after Rice rocketed past him on the depth chart, and he deserves a larger role elsewhere -- if he wants it -- should he be released.

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