Mason Decides to Retire

Baltimore Ravens WR Derrick Mason said Monday that he's retiring. Who will replace him in the starting lineup? Who might the team target in free agency to challenge for his starting spot? What are the salary cap ramifications? Details inside...

Baltimore Ravens veteran WR Derrick Mason has announced his retirement.

"I have had a tremendous career and I played for two great teams, I had fun. In my career, I have been able to do everything but win a Super Bowl. I've had the opportunity to play on great teams and with great players. After 12 years, I have seen it all and done it all," Mason stated. "Right now, I am content with the decision I am making. All good things come to an end and I am ready to see what else life has to offer," Mason told

Interestingly, there didn't seem to be an indication that Mason was ready to retire. Because of that, the team didn't select a receiver in the draft. The only move they made in free agency at receiver was to sign talented but long-time underachiever, Kelley Washington. However, at least internally, Mason had been thinking about moving on. Although he didn't mention it, Mason dealt with a significant shoulder injury which lasted almost all of last season, but he didn't miss any games.

"I have been thinking about this since season ended. Emotionally I am just not that enthused. I have not been that enthused to get up and work out…it was getting to that point. This decision has nothing to do with the contract situation; I have made enough money, more than enough money. Emotionally there are things that are more important. It's time right now. I don't know what's going to happen from here, but it's going to be really nice to see what life has in store for me. What I want people to remember about my NFL career is that I played hard…played hard in practice and the game. I tried to make everyone better and would do anything to help."

It should be noted that Mason has yet to notify the league that he's retiring.

"For any player to retire, he has to send a letter to the NFL stating this. Derrick Mason has not done that," the team announced in a press release in response to media reports in regard to Mason's announcement.

A league source with knowledge of the situation said team officials were somewhat caught off guard after finding out about Mason's decision on Monday.

Assuming that Mason is going through with his decision to move on, that leaves Mark Clayton as the only sure starter at receiver. Oft-injured, but very talented Demetrius Williams figures to be the odds-on favorite to replace Mason in the lineup within the current roster, but the team will likely look elsewhere to at least sign another veteran to challenge for void. Another younger player to keep an eye on his second-year pro Marcus Smith. The big-bodied receiver was putting together a very strong training camp last year until he suffered a significant shoulder injury that lingered for many weeks.

Baltimore talked to the Arizona Cardinals about acquiring WR Anquan Boldin prior to the draft, but sources said a potential deal wasn't close and Arizona wasn't really looking to deal him away. It was more than that were just trying to gauge his worth. However, that could change closer to the start of the regular season if the situation becomes very ugly between the team and Boldin, who has two years left on his contract.

According to's latest Best Available NFL Free Agents on Offense report, the top receivers available include: Plaxico Burress, Marvin Harrison, Jerry Porter, D.J. Hackett, Drew Bennett, Reggie Williams, and Matt Jones.

Mason, 35, was on the final year of the five-year, $20 million contract which he signed in 2005. His base salary for 2009 was $3 million. Once Mason goes on the reserve-retired list, the Ravens will get a rebate of his $3 million base salary, but a league source said they'll be responsible for the remaining signing bonus proration on his deal of $1.4 million, which essentially becomes dead salary cap space.

For more on the Ravens, check out Ravens Insider.

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