After the Ravens' playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans, Marshal Yanda eschewed any questions about possible retirement. With how raw and painful that loss was, it just wasn't the time.
With a couple weeks since, after the glow of the Pro Bowl and time relaxing with his family, Yanda shed some more light on his thought process after Sunday's game.
Yanda said he didn't really think about the Pro Bowl game being possibly the last time he put on a football uniform and pads.
"You're not in that frame of mind," Yanda said. "It was the Pro Bowl. It's more of a relaxed game, not like a really intense game. The Tennessee game, I did."
When Yanda signed a two-year contract extension last offseason, it didn't guarantee that he would play it out. It just ensured that he would start and end his career as a Raven and take free agency out of the decision-making process for whether to play in 2020.
Yanda felt physically good going into last offseason and loved the direction of the Ravens' offense, so he wanted to keep playing. The circumstances are the same this offseason.
Yanda enters the offseason without any major injuries and Baltimore's offense will retain its core pieces and a run-heavy scheme that Yanda loves. He said on numerous occasions during the 2019 season that he was having a blast playing, winning, and being in that locker room.
Still, that doesn't ensure that the 35-year-old blocker will be back.
"I'm going to take my time now, officially done playing now for the year," Yanda said. "Just take some time over the next month and basically go with my heart and see how I feel."
Yanda's timeline for a decision sometime within the next month is important. Baltimore will know whether Yanda is back in time for free agency and the draft, and can plan accordingly.
Replacing an eight-time Pro Bowler and potential Hall of Famer would be an impossible task, and one the Ravens would like to avoid in the immediate future.
"You want people to want you back," Yanda said. "That's the way to end it is to be playing really well when you end. Nobody wants to fade out; you want to go out strong."
If Yanda were to retire, the Ravens' current in-house replacements could be Bradley Bozeman (if he shifted from left guard) or Ben Powers (a fourth-round pick last offseason who suited up for one game). Veteran James Hurst has played guard but was the backup tackle last year.
The Ravens could, of course, draft somebody in the early rounds to step into the position. They could also attack a thin free-agent market at guard. Washington Redskins guard Brandon Scherff, a former Iowa Hawkeye like Yanda, headlines the class.
Either way, the best solution is for Yanda to give it one more go. Yanda was still the fourth-highest graded guard in the NFL last year, per Pro Football Focus. He gave up just one sack and eight hurries and paved the way for a record-setting rushing attack.
"When you're a Hall of Fame-type of guy and you're a lineman, it's really important to finish strong in your career, to play Hall of Fame football at the end, because that's when everybody is watching. And he's doing that," Head Coach John Harbaugh said at his season-ending press conference.
"So, I'm all for him playing Hall of Fame football for another year if he so chooses, and I did tell him that. I let him know that, and we had a good hug and stuff. But he'll do what's right for his family, and whatever he does, we'll respect it."