Free agent Gary Barnidge: Ravens haven’t called me

8 Jul


Gary Barnidge has his phone at the ready, but it isn’t ringing.

Two years after eclipsing 1,000 receiving yards while adding nine touchdowns, the former Pro Bowl tight end is working out on his own without an NFL roster to fall back on. But the lack of notifications on Barnidge’s phone doesn’t mean there aren’t vacancies at his position.

While it’s not unusual for teams to steer clear of an aging tight end who was cut by the Cleveland Browns, it’s probably just as unusual for a Browns starter on offense to make the Pro Bowl.

That being said, the Baltimore Ravens present a compelling case for pursuing Barnidge. Dennis Pitta, who led all tight ends with 86 receptions in 2016, spent six seasons in Baltimore before being cut last month after dislocating his hip. Darren Waller was suspended last week for at least one year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

Benjamin Watson is ailing with an Achilles tendon injury and Maxx Williams had surgery this offseason. Crockett Gillmore and Nick Boyle — who combined for 115 yards on 14 receptions last season — and Ryan Malleck — who the Ravens signed after releasing Pitta — seem to be the Ravens‘ best options at tight end at the moment.

But Barnidge, who visited the Bills last month, is waiting to see if the Ravens are interested.

“They have to call my agent. They know who to call and who to contact and all of that stuff,” Barnidge said Thursday on Glenn Clark Radio. “I just know we haven’t heard anything yet, which is fine.

“I am in no hurry. I’m staying in shape. I’m ready, I’ll be ready when that call comes. I’m in no rush right now.”

Barnidge admitted that his age might be a detractor to potential suitors. He will turn 32 on September 22. But he also pointed out that his body is fresher than it appears, having only started 10 or more games three times in his nine-year career. The rest of his time was spent behind other tight ends on the rosters in Carolina and Cleveland.

Whoever calls, Barnidge is adamant that team is getting a player it can count on.

“I have no problem being a No. 2 or whatever to help guys, but I also still think I have the ability to be a No. 1,” Barnidge said. “A lot of people don’t understand is that, my first seven years of my career, I don’t get to play a lot. I was always the second or third tight end, just playing special teams. So I don’t have the wear and tear on my body or my legs.

“I’m still fresh and good to go, and that’s what a lot of people don’t take into account.”

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