Not surprisingly, Marsha Yanda was the subject of one of the first questions Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta fielded at his press conference at the NFL Scouting Combine Tuesday.
Yanda, 35, is weighing whether to return to the Ravens in 2020 or retire after 13 seasons with the team, and his decision is among the most important of the Ravens' offseason.
"I had a great conversation with Marshal at the Pro Bowl. We didn't talk about the future. I'm sure we'll have those discussions probably in the next month or so," DeCosta said.
A year ago, there was similar speculation that Yanda might retire instead of playing out the final year of a five-year deal he signed in 2015. He not only chose to keep playing in 2019 but signed a one-year extension to put him under contract through 2020.
Yanda earned his seventh Pro Bowl nod in 2019, bolstering his reputation as one of his era's most dominant offensive linemen. He said during the season that he didn't expect to be in uniform beyond 2020 but left open the possibility of playing one more year. It was clear he enjoyed being part of the physical, ground-oriented attack the Ravens rolled out in 2019.
Reporters approached him in the locker room after the Ravens' playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans, wondering if he might make an announcement. But he demurred.
"I'm not talking future right now," he said.
If he retires, it would leave a hole in the Ravens' offensive line, as there is no heir apparent waiting to take over. Ben Powers, a guard drafted in the fourth round in 2019, played little as a rookie, while a second-year player, Bradley Bozeman, just established himself as the starting left guard last season.
If Yanda retires, the Ravens might have to sign a free agent to replace him and/or use a draft pick to bolster their depth and give themselves more options at the position.
Obviously, the Ravens want Yanda back, but they're going to have to wait a little longer to find out his decision.