There had been speculation that the Ravens were thinking of releasing McKinnie because they have a visit scheduled with Eric Winston, the best right tackle in the free-agent market. Some thought the Ravens would sign Winston, move Michael Oher from right to left tackle and cut McKinnie.
In his first season in Baltimore, McKinnie had his share of ups and downs especially as a run blocker. He's also scheduled to make $3.2 million in 2012. So, it's understandable for the Ravens to consider other options. By picking up the option, it appears that the Ravens are committed to McKinnie for this season.
So, why would the Ravens schedule a meeting with Winston if they aren't parting ways with McKinnie?
I could only come up with two viable reasons:
1. Team officials wanted to send McKinnie a message. The reports of Winston's visit came out the day before McKinnie's meeting with team officials in Baltimore. McKinnie, whose weight has been an issue throughout his career, had a "very positive meeting" and agreed to participate in the team's conditioning program, according to the Carroll County (Md.) Times.
2. There was no scheduled visit with Winston.
I don't buy into an outside-the-box idea of moving either Oher or McKinnie to left guard. The Ravens are trying to sign free agent Evan Mathis for that spot. Winston, meanwhile, is visiting the Kansas City Chiefs and is next headed to the St. Louis Rams.
Usually you can connect the dots as to why teams plan visits with certain players. This one is not as clear cut. If anyone else has a better read on this situation, please let me know.