Gaither Saga At Least Gives Us Something To Talk About

May 09, 2010 | Glenn Clark

Thank God for Jared Gaither.

Frankly, if the Gaither saga wasn’t playing out before our eyes, there would have really been no reason for any of us to be out covering Ravens mini-camp in Owings Mills this weekend.

With no offense to anyone who ran to Twitter to see which part-time reporter had something to say about how Donte’ Stallworth was fitting into the offense, there was really nothing to be learned about football this weekend.

Donte’ Stallworth DID look like a good receiver by the way, but…umm…isn’t that what we expected from him?

Oh, and one guy who shows up a couple times a year yet tries to pass himself off as a Ravens expert offered this gem as part of his coverage…

“Very excited and fired up team”

Thank God you showed up to let us know. We’re really desperate to pass along something as news, aren’t we?

Here’s what we REALLY learned this weekend at 1 Winning Drive that we didn’t necessarily absolutely know before…

-Ed Reed is expected to be back by Training Camp
-Haloti Ngata tore a pec at the Pro Bowl
-Mark Clayton had to have a shoulder procedure this offseason
-Ed Dickson is ahead of Dennis Pitta on the TE depth chart, at least at this point
-and something about offensive linemen flipping positions

Seriously, thank God for Jared Gaither; as this weekend would have been almost worthless without him.

When the Ravens decided to shift Michael Oher to LT and Jared Gaither to RT Friday, they were well aware that it would be major news.

As much as it makes sense to shuffle the LT of the future to that side of the line  now, and as easy as it is for most of us to agree that Michael Oher probably IS going to be a better LT than Jared Gaither; it remains a significant move-and one that will be scrutinized until (well, if) it proves successful.

After Jared Gaither missed a 2nd consecutive day of practice Sunday, John Harbaugh said that he was dealing with a toe/foot injury; and that he wasn’t skipping practice as any form of “protest.”

And while it’s possible that he’s being completely honest; he didn’t convince everyone…not even everyone in attendance as he said it.

I tried grabbing Gaither to talk to him about it, but after a few minutes of chatting about the differences in football players at Maryland and Alabama (a spirited conversation started by Ravens rookie DT Terrence Cody); he had no interest in chatting about the injury.

Sun writer Ken Murray joined me, asking Gaither which foot was hurt-but the big man dodged the question. He instead walked away, telling us he’d be back shortly to talk about the situation.

Jerry Coleman said he managed to stop Gaither in a corner of the locker room, and Gaither dismissed rumors that sitting out at practice was pre-arranged by agent Drew Rosenhaus.

The message I left for Rosenhaus has thus far gone unreturned.

Could Jared Gaither really be dealing with a foot injury? Maybe. John Harbaugh said he had to leave practice early Friday; and Gaither hasn’t been available to answer too many questions since.

I don’t think it would surprise anyone at all if Rosenhaus was involved in an orchestrated decision to sit out practice; but the hopes of Gaither being traded appear to be particularly slim.

Considering a 2nd round pick wouldn’t be NEARLY as valuable to the Ravens now after the NFL Draft as it would have been before; it isn’t likely compensation for a quality NFL tackle at this point.

While a team (like the Bills…or the Raiders…or the Redskins) might still be willing to consider giving up a 1st round pick for Gaither-it seems incredibly unlikely. There may be more room for a player-player trade to happen in the NFL now with no salary cap, but they remain particularly rare. With Leodis McKelvin apparently out of the question in a Buffalo trade and the vague internet rumor regarding Nnamdi Asomugha being borderline INSANE-I’m not sure what player what even fit the bill for what the Ravens would be looking for in a trade. Carlos Rogers seems particularly unlikely as well.

On top of all of that, the Ravens NEED Jared Gaither. With no offense to Oniel Couins, Tony Moll, Ramon Harewood, Stefan Rodgers, etc; there just isn’t a player on this roster that could comfortably play 16+ games at the tackle position for a team with Super Bowl aspirations. Marshal Yanda would be the most likely candidate should Gaither not play, but the team would absolutely be taking a step back.

So here we are.

The Ravens expect Gaither to be their starting RT when they report to McDaniel College for Training Camp in late July. They expect Gaither to be their starting RT when they face the New York Jets on Monday Night Football to open the season. They might be blown away by a trade offer between now and then, but I don’t think the chances are even 50-50.

And between now and then, the saga will likely take a few more turns that will make this offseason more interesting for those of us who cover the team.

At least more interesting than questions about how Anquan Boldin looks in purple.