The Ravens assigned the tag to McAlister to prevent him from becoming an unrestricted free agent. That meant paying him the average of the top five salaries at his position. Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome has said the club would resume negotiations with McAlister's agent, Mitch Frankel, once McAlister reported and signed.
Last season, McAlister finished with 67 tackles, one interception and led the team with 24 pass deflections. He set a new NFL mark for longest play with a 107-yard touchdown return of a missed field goal against the Denver Broncos.
"It's great to have Chris back," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "He's been absent understandably, an excused absence so to speak. He looks to be in great shape. We've checked that out and we're anxious to get him back on the field."
McAlister was absent from the Ravens' training complex for the majority of the offseason, attending one mandatory minicamp. However, that didn't reflect a significant change from previous years as he routinely returns to the West Coast after the season.
McAlister said the restrictive process of the franchise tag doesn't bother him.
"It's like the hiring and firing process for anybody," McAlister said. "Fortunately, I know I'm not getting fired. I'm just waiting to see when they're going to rehire me."
The Ravens retain the right to franchise McAlister again after this season, but that's unlikely to happen because it would represent a steep 20 percent increase on this year's salary. Reaching a long-term deal is both parties' stated goal.
"Man, the prices just keep going up," McAlister said. "They could franchise me 10 years in a row."
McAlister said he has no desire to play anywhere other than Baltimore and doesn't want to test the free agent market.
"I still want a championship," he said. "I think my best chance of getting a championship is with the Ravens."
Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.