ORLANDO, Fla. — The strong message that Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh delivered to offensive tackle Jared Gaither has been heeded.
One day after Harbaugh expressed displeasure that Gaither hasn’t been attending the Ravens’ voluntary offseason conditioning program, the 6-foot-9, 340-pound starting left tackle now plans to report for workouts on Monday.
Harbaugh discussed the issue with Gaither’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, during the annual league meetings this week.
Gaither is a restricted free agent who was assigned a first-round tender. He’s due a $2.3 million base salary this season.
"I really believe Jared is going to be a premier offensive tackle in this league," Harbaugh said Tuesday. "The thing we need him to do is to get up there and start working on it. I talked to Drew Rosenhaus and he tells me he’s getting Jared in shape.
"The last time I checked, Drew Rosenhaus doesn’t coach the offensive line in the National Football League. Jared needs to be in our weight room with our players with our offensive line, becoming the player he can become."
The restricted free agent signing period ends April 15. Any team that wants to submit an offer sheet for Gaither would owe the Ravens a first-round pick as compensation should the team decide not to match.
"There’s no leverage that’s gained by not being with the team working out," Harbaugh said. "If he thinks he’s gaining some kind of leverage, well he’s not making himself the best player he can be. So, that’s our position. Come out and go to work and become a great player."
The imposing former University of Maryland player has a ton of ability, but he battled neck and foot injuries last season. Rookie offensive tackle Michael Oher stepped in for Gaither at times due to those health issues.
"The last conversation we had right after the Indianapolis game right in the locker room was I walked up to him and said, ‘Hey, we’re going to have a great offseason. You need to get bigger and stronger and therefore more durable,’ " Harbaugh said. "And he was right on that. He absolutely was, ‘Coach, that’s what I’m going to do.’ "
When Gaither hired Rosenhaus last year, he did so with the intention of having him eventually negotiate a long-term contract extension with the Ravens. Rosenhaus has spoken with the Ravens about that desire, but they aren’t inclined to enter into formal talks at this time.
Harbaugh raised the point that staying away from workouts doesn’t build confidence as far as making a major financial commitment to a player.
"This is a team sport," Harbaugh said. "Come in and be the very best you can be. As a coach and a general manager and an owner you look at that and you say, ‘That’s the kind of guy we want to have for the long term that we want to make a long-term investment because we can trust him and count on him to be there. The other thing is you kind of go, well, I don’t know. Is this the kind of guy we can trust and count on?"
NOTES: Ravens veteran free agent cornerback Frank Walker is on the verge of scheduling some visits with NFL teams. He has been talking with the Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams, Houston Texans and the Jacksonville Jaguars. His representatives have remained in touch with the Ravens.
The Ravens haven’t ruled out re-signing Walker, an aggressive, physical cornerback whose primary drawback is being prone to a lot of penalties.
The Ravens could use a few cornerbacks, a veteran and a rookie, in coach John Harbaugh’s estimation, because Lardarius Webb and Fabian Washington aren’t a sure thing to be ready for the start of the regular season as they rehabilitate from torn anterior cruciate ligaments.
"Frank has got some other options right now, too," Harbaugh said. "People have respect for him. We may not be able to get him signed back. Right now, I’m not so sure that he’s not the best guy out there." … Harbaugh praised Ravens director of player personnel Eric DeCosta. "I think the philosophy of Steve Bisciotti is to put as many good people who are really good at what they do who work really hard and have a good heart and love to work together in the same building and kind of duke it out," Harbaugh said. "Eric DeCosta is a huge part of that. Eric DeCosta kind of epitomizes what Steve is talking about that way.
"He’s a really hard worker. He’s passionate about everything he does. When he likes a player, you’re going to know. When he doesn’t like a player, you’re going to know that, too. That’s what you want."