Last season, after realizing that Bryant McKinnie’s Super Bowl stretch was an aberration, the Baltimore Ravens traded him to the Miami Dolphins for a conditional late-round pick, a necessity for the latter following the Jonathan Martin situation.
The Ravens traded their fourth- and fifth-round draft picks for this upcoming draft to the Jacksonville Jaguars for tackle Eugene Monroe, who settled at least the left side of the offensive line for the time being.
Because he was in the last year of his contract, however, the Ravens are now in serious jeopardy of losing Monroe in free agency, sending their meager offensive line into further turmoil. Right tackle Michael Oher, formerly of ‘the blind side’, is also currently a free agent for the Ravens.
Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun wrote yesterday on Twitter that the two parties are “still far apart”, adding that it is “too close to free agency for him not to test it”, citing heavy interest, notably from the Dolphins, for his services.
According to Mark Zenitz in an article for the Caroll County Times, Monroe is seeking $10 million annually on a long-term deal, while the Ravens are a couple million a year shy of that figure.
Zenitz goes so far as to say he is “likely” to play elsewhere next season.
With so much turnover that the Ravens have already experienced along the offensive line recently, including losing Ben Grubbs in free agency and Matt Birk retiring, another bout of uncertainty can’t bode well for the stability of the offensive line, whose primary responsibility is to protect a $20 million a year asset.
Monroe is one of the better left tackles in the league. The only reason the Ravens were able to acquire him for a pair of mid-round picks is precisely because he was in the last year of his rookie contract and the Jaguars themselves feared that re-signing him would pose a very serious problem.
Now it’s the Ravens’ problem to worry about, and it’s unclear if they have a viable in-house solution. Even if they re-sign Oher, his play has consistently been better while playing on the right side.
Zenitz ends his article noting that offensive line was a concern for the Ravens even while retaining Monroe was still in the mix, and with the likelihood of him now leaving, that concern is only further exacerbated.
Outside of guards Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele, the Ravens don’t have much in the way of talent, with the likes of Gino Gradkowski and A.Q. Shipley forced into prominent roles last season.