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OWINGS MILLS — After contemplating retirement this offseason, Baltimore Ravens All-Pro offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden has decided to return for his 12th season.
Ogdenâ€™s brother, Marques, confirmed Thursday night what was believed to be the case for the past month: that the 10-time All-Pro will play at least one more season.
â€œJonathan always wanted to come back; he just needed to make sure that his heart was still in it and that he was healthy enough to play up to his standards,â€ said Ogden, a former Ravens reserve lineman. â€œWill this be his last season? I donâ€™t know and I donâ€™t think he knows yet. I know he still loves to play football, and he felt like it wasnâ€™t time to stop playing yet."
Marques Ogden reiterated that he was absolutely certain that his older brother wouldn’t change his mind.
"That’s not how he is," Ogden said.
Ogden and his agent, Marvin Demoff, didnâ€™t return telephone calls seeking comment.
Ogden, 32, was the Ravensâ€™ first draft pick in team history, selected out of UCLA with the fourth overall pick of the 1996 draft prior to the team’s inaugural season in Baltimore.
Heâ€™s regarded as a lock for future induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. At 6-foot-9, 340 pounds, Ogden is one of the biggest linemen in league history and one of the most agile lineman of the past two decades.
Team officials had continually expressed optimism that Ogden would likely return, including coach Brian Billick following an upbeat meeting with Ogden near his Las Vegas home before the NFL owners meetings last month.
The main obstacle was the condition of a dislocated big toe on his left foot that kept Ogden out of the final two games of the regular season. Although the toe still isnâ€™t completely healed, it has improved significantly, according to Marques Ogden.
Last year was an especially difficult season for Ogden emotionally because his father, Sherril Ogden, died just before training camp. After missing camp for personal reasons, Ogden reported and had one of his best seasons in years, according to general manager Ozzie Newsome.
The Ravens exercised a mechanism in Ogden’s contract this offseason that guaranteed the $6 million base salary he was due. Now, NFL Player Association documents list his base salary for this season at $820,000. He’s under contract through 2010.
Even with Ogdenâ€™s return, the Ravens could still look to draft an offensive tackle with their first-round draft pick in this weekendâ€™s NFL draft. They lost right tackle Tony Pashos in free agency and have no viable backup to Ogden and Adam Terry, who has been installed as the starter on the right side.
With Ogden coming back, thereâ€™s still the possibility that this could be his final season so the team still has to plan for an eventual future without him anchoring the left side of the line.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland