Things just have not worked out between the Ravens and Eugene Monroe. It’s something that few would have predicted two years ago. The left tackle position had been in flux since the retirement of Jonathan Ogden and Monroe appeared to be the player who could hold down Joe Flacco’s blindside for the foreseeable future.
Just two years later Monroe’s future with the Ravens is anyone’s guess. Monroe developed a reputation as a workout warrior and a durable player during his time in Jacksonville. He missed just three games during his first four seasons. The last two years however Monroe has spent more time in the trainer’s room than he has on the field, and reports at the end of 2015 indicated that the Ravens patience had worn thin regarding Monroe.
Kelechi Osemele is an option. He started the final four games of the regular season at left tackle and played well, but he will likely have his fair share of suitors come free agency. His continued services won’t come cheap and retaining him could be tough for the Ravens front office who currently have little wiggle when it comes to their cap situation.
Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley is a popular pick for the Ravens in several mock drafts. But do the Ravens want to trust a rookie to protect Flacco’s blindside as he’s coming off of major knee surgery?
Even though it won’t be a popular decision, the smartest move for the Ravens might be to give Monroe one more year. Considering their other options, and examining their plethora of needs, it’s probably the best route for them to take in 2016.
Keeping Osemele will cost the Ravens a ton on money and cutting Monroe won’t save them much. If the Ravens do decide to move on from Monroe they’ll gain $2.1 million in cap savings. Certainly not chump change, but not a ton of money by NFL standards. Considering Osemele’s age and proven versatility, he’ll likely be looking to be paid as one of the top guards in football. For comparison Mike Iupati signed a five-year $40 million dollar contract with the Cardinals prior to last season. Even if the Ravens are able to free up that type of money, wouldn’t it be better spent elsewhere?
Osemele is a great player and has earned his contract, but he won’t be catching touchdowns or forcing turnovers next season. The Ravens desperately need playmakers on both sides of the ball. They aren’t a team that typically wades into the free agent pool, but if they are able to free up the type of money they would need to keep Osemele, finding Flacco another proven target or finding a dominant pass rusher is a bigger priority this offseason.
It’s understandable if the Ravens are frustrated with Monroe. Coaches and General Managers have high expectations for a player when he signs the type of contract that Monroe did two years ago, and he hasn’t lived up to them. It’s also understandable if the Ravens would like to move on from Monroe. Looking at their cap situation though and their long list of other needs, the timing probably isn’t right in 2016.
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