Harbaugh And Mason Discuss Receiver's Future


Ravens head coach John Harbaugh spoke with receiver Derrick Mason on Tuesday regarding his sudden retirement announcement, which blindsided many around the organization.

The pair was hoping to meet face to face soon.

And whenever that happens, Harbaugh hopes Mason will have decided to rejoin the team.

"He's ready physically. He's in good shape and he's healthy. He just wants to decide if he's mentally ready," Harbaugh told the Associated Press yesterday. "It's really open right now. I'm optimistic and hopeful that he'll be there, but if he's not there, we'll support and respect his decision either way."

In an unexpected move last week, Mason released a statement that outlined his plans for retirement after 12 years in the NFL. Despite surpassing 1,000 receiving yards for the Ravens in three of the last four seasons, Mason, 35, cited many factors in his declaration to retire.

He had been recovering from a shoulder injury that required surgery this offseason to repair his labrum and scapula. Additionally, one of his best friends, former quarterback Steve McNair, was recently murdered.

Even though Mason expressed displeasure with his contract at the end of the 2008 campaign, he vehemently denied that money had anything to do with his retirement.

Harbaugh said that he discussed all of the scenarios with his leading wideout.

"I think it's real honorable what he's doing in the sense that it would be easy for a guy to just come in and go through the motions. Derrick does not want to go through the motions," Harbaugh said.

"He wants to make sure he's in the right frame of mind to compete at the level he's competed at his whole career, which is a warrior-type level."

The Ravens have had multiple players in the past claim they want to retire and then return to play another year. General manager Ozzie Newsome came back after hinting at retirement to add one more year on his Hall of Fame career. More recently, offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden decided to return for another season when he was seriously contemplating retiring.

Mason has not yet filed his official retirement papers.

While the Ravens have repeatedly said they are comfortable with the receiving group they have in-house, they are still looking to improve at the position.

On Friday, veteran receivers D.J. Hackett and Drew Bennett are two of four candidates scheduled for a workout in front of Ravens coaches and personnel executives. The other two names have not been released.

Without Mason, Baltimore's current receiving corps is led by Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams, who is recovering from surgery on his Achilles' tendon.

"From a coaching standpoint, I think we have a chance to be a really good team, and if Derrick Mason is a part of it, that makes us even stronger," Harbaugh said. "But if he's not, we're still going to be a really good team. It comes down to Derrick and where his mind is at. He's the only one that can decide that."

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