Bryant McKinnie

Bryant McKinnie spent much of last season on the bench, but he was a key contributor as the Ravens' left tackle during the playoffs. (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun / August 3, 2012)

Bolstering perhaps the greatest remaining need on their roster, the Ravens have agreed with left tackle Bryant McKinnie to a two-year contract that carries a maximum value of $7 million.

The deal includes an undisclosed signing bonus, incentive clauses and workout bonuses, according to a source.

By agreeing to terms with McKinnie, the Ravens can leave Kelechi Osemele at left guard, where he lined up during the playoffs. Without McKinnie, the Ravens were planning to evaluate Osemele as their potential starting left tackle.

Instead, McKinnie and the defending Super Bowl champions hammered out a contract days after the un restricted free agent visited and drew offers from the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins. McKinnie took physicals with both teams and posted photographs during both visits.

The former Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl blocker also fielded a preliminary inquiry from the Dallas Cowboys, but remaining with the Ravens was his preference all along.

“We worked very hard to get him back there,” said Michael George, McKinnie's agent. “Bryant had offers from other teams. In the end, this was the best situation for him. He's real happy. I know they are.”

McKinnie, 33, started every game in the playoffs after being replaced at left tackle during the regular season by Michael Oher. With McKinnie protecting his blind side and Oher shifting over to right tackle, quarterback Joe Flacco threw 11 touchdown passes and zero interceptions during the postseason.

The Ravens will bring back four of five starters from the offensive line that thrived during the playoffs when they averaged 410.3 yards of total offense per game. The only starter not returning is six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk, who retired in February. Gino Gradkowski slated to replace him.

The Ravens allowed just six sacks in four playoff games after giving up 35 sacks during the regular season.

Oher appears pleased that McKinnie is returning, writing to him on Twitter: “Glad you back bro.”

Wide receiver Torrey Smith also reacted to the news, tweeting: “Welcome back Bryant McKinnie. Well, you never really left.”

McKinnie has battled conditioning and weight issues and reported late to training camp last summer after saying he slipped and hurt his back at his South Florida home. He didn't intially pass the Ravens' mandatory conditioning test, but he got in better shape as the season went on.

McKinnie was contacted by the Chicago Bears when free agency started. However, they quickly reached a deal with former New Orleans Saints and Towson offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod to become their new left tackle.

awilson@baltsun.com

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