Mason returning to Ravens after agreeing to two-year deal

BALTIMORE -- After twice reaching outside the organization to enhance their receiving corps, the Ravens secured one of their own Wednesday night: two-time Pro Bowl pick Derrick Mason.

Mason, an unrestricted free agent, agreed to a two-year contract with the team that he joined in 2005.

Mason's future with the Ravens appeared unclear after the team obtained Donte' Stallworth in free agency and Anquan Boldin in a trade with the Arizona Cardinals. Mason hinted after the 2009 season that he might retire, and there also was a chance that he would sign with another team.

But now Mason, 36, is set to end his career in Baltimore, and his return assures third-year quarterback Joe Flacco a familiar target to go with Stallworth and Boldin.

"This is outstanding, just great news for the Ravens," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Mason's return. "Our coaches are happy. Derrick's teammates are happy, and you know Joe is smiling. ... We would have lost something special if Derrick had gone to another team. We have gotten better in the last couple of days."

The announcement comes just two days after Boldin signed a four-year contract with the Ravens. Boldin had 84 catches for 1,024 yards and four touchdowns last season with the Cardinals.

Mason had 73 receptions for 1,028 yards and seven touchdowns in 2009. He started all 16 games for Baltimore and became the 23rd player in NFL history with 800 career catches.

Before the season, Mason announced his retirement, then returned during training camp. Then, after the Ravens were eliminated in the playoffs by the Indianapolis Colts, Mason indicated he again would consider ending his career.

Instead, Mason will spend the next few months preparing for his 14th NFL season.

"I'm getting myself ready to play football and help the Ravens win," he said. "But the first thing I am going to do is take my family on vacation. I'll see everybody back in Baltimore soon."

The Ravens entered the offseason intent upon improving at wide receiver. Running back Ray Rice led the team with 78 catches last season, and no wideout besides Mason had more than 34 receptions.

That should change in 2010 with the addition of Boldin and Stallworth, along with the re-signing of Mason.

"We know exactly what we're getting with Derrick and that's production," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "Every Ravens fan knows what Derrick brings to this team. It's reliability, toughness, leadership, the fight to win, the want of the ball in the clutch times. He has a two-year history with Joe that says 'we know how to produce together.' They are on the same page."

Mason played with the Tennessee Titans for eight years before coming to Baltimore as a free agent. He made the Pro Bowl in 2000 and 2003, and he has 863 career receptions for 11,089 yards and 59 touchdowns.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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