NFL: Mason to return to Ravens; agrees on 2-year deal
By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer
BALTIMORE — After twice reaching outside the organization to enhance their wide receiving corps, the Baltimore Ravens secured one of their own Wednesday night: two-time Pro Bowl player Derrick Mason.
Mason, an unrestricted free agent, agreed to a two-year deal with the team he joined in 2005.
Mason’s future with the Ravens appeared unclear after the Ravens obtained free agent wideout Donte’ Stallworth and traded for Anquan Boldin. Mason hinted after the 2009 season that he might retire, and there was also a chance he would sign with another team.
But now he’s set to end his career with Baltimore, and his return assures third-year quarterback Joe Flacco a familiar target to go with Stallworth and Boldin.
“This is outstanding, just great news for the Ravens,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Our coaches are happy. Derrick’s teammates are happy and you know Joe is smiling. ... We would have lost something special if Derrick had gone to another team. We have gotten better in the last couple of days.”
The announcement comes just two days after Boldin signed a four-year contract with Baltimore. Boldin had 84 catches for 1,024 yards and four touchdowns last season with Arizona.
The 36-year-old Mason had 73 receptions for 1,028 yards and seven touchdowns in 2009. He started all 16 games and became the 23rd player in NFL history with 800 career catches.
Before the season, he announced his retirement and then returned during training camp. Then, after the Ravens were eliminated in the playoffs by Indianapolis, Mason indicated he would again consider ending his career.
Instead, he will spend the next few months preparing for his 14th NFL season.
“I’m getting myself ready to play football and help the Ravens win,” Mason said. “But the first thing I am going to do is take my family on vacation. I’ll see everybody back in Baltimore soon.”
Baltimore entered the offseason intent upon improving at the wide receiver position. Running back Ray Rice led the team with 78 catches, and no wideout besides Mason had more than 34 receptions.
That should change in 2010 with addition of Boldin and Stallworth, along with the re-signing of Mason.
“We know exactly what we’re getting with Derrick and that’s production,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said. “Every Ravens fan knows what Derrick brings to this team. It’s reliability, toughness, leadership, the fight to win, the want of the ball in the clutch times. He has a two-year history with Joe that says ’we know how to produce together.’ They are on the same page.”
Mason played eight years with the Tennessee Titans before coming to Baltimore as a free agent. He made the Pro Bowl in 2000 and 2003, and has 863 career receptions for 11,089 yards and 59 touchdowns.