OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Pernell McPhee‘s NFL career has come full circle.
McPhee, who was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the fifth round of the 2011 draft, is returning to the team on a one-year deal, a league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Thursday.
The Ravens are bringing back McPhee because they needed a veteran pass-rusher, especially someone who can make a push up the middle, after losing Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith in free agency. Baltimore had previously shown interest in Justin Houston and Ezekiel Ansah this offseason.
McPhee, 30, played his first four seasons with the Ravens before leaving the team in 2015 to sign a five-year contract with the Chicago Bears as a free agent. In 2017, McPhee acknowledged it stung when he didn’t get an offer from Baltimore to stay when he hit free agency.
“It was still in my system — being a Raven, playing like a Raven,” McPhee said before playing against the Ravens two years ago. “That’s how I was bred into this NFL world. That was my birth, just playing like a Raven, being a Raven. Not getting an offer from them — it hurt. But I will always salute [general manager] Ozzie [Newsome] and coach [John] Harbaugh for giving me the opportunity to be a Raven. But two years ago, it hurt me a little bit.”
When McPhee left, the Ravens drafted Smith to specifically replace him. When Smith signed with the Green Bay Packers in March, Baltimore then replaced him with McPhee.
Durability has been a major issue with McPhee. In four seasons since leaving Baltimore, McPhee has missed more games (15) than sacks recorded (14).
He played only three seasons in Chicago before he was released last February. He missed 12 games with a variety of ailments, including chronic knee issues, during his time with the Bears. He was placed on injured reserve in December of the 2017 season, his final one in Chicago, after trying to battle through a shoulder injury.
Last year, McPhee had 11 tackles and no sacks in 13 games for the Washington Redskins.
The Ravens will likely use McPhee as part of a pass-rush rotation. Baltimore used a third-round pick on Jaylon Ferguson, the NCAA all-time leader in sacks, and hope for more production from disappointing third-year players Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams. Where McPhee was so vital was lining up on the interior in passing situations and providing penetration up the middle.