It’s that time of year again, and the annual chess match has begun between teams and their unrestricted free agents.
The Ravens have their work cut out for them. They have six starters from last season who are set to hit the open market on March 11th.
Reports have already surfaced that Eugene Monroe has no intentions of giving the Ravens a discount. In addition, according to sources, the Ravens and Dennis Pitta are “far apart” on what they see as a fair deal. This should come as no surprise this early in the off season. It’s rare that teams and agents are able to meet halfway in mid February, and it shouldn’t concern Ravens fans, yet.
The general consensus among fans and pundits is Pitta is the Ravens top priority. Aside from his production on the field he is one of Joe Flacco’s best friends, and chemistry is incredibly important among quarterbacks and their pass catchers.
With that said, just because Joe and Dennis like to hit up the local Olive Garden together, it shouldn’t be a factor in contract negotiations. While its likely the Ravens will find a way to retain Pitta, whether it’s a long term contract or via the franchise tag, Eugene Monroe is just as, if not more important to the Ravens success in 2014.
Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens no doubt have had every intention of keeping Monroe in Baltimore, for years to come, since they traded for him back in October. For a team that covets draft picks as much as the Ravens, they would never consider dealing a 4th and 5th round pick to Jacksonville for a half-season rental. They understand his value and the importance of the position he plays.
Monroe may not be an elite left tackle, but he is definitely in the top 10 at his position. Finding talent on the blind side can be as challenging as any position for a team, so much so that a projected LT has been taken in the top 10 in each draft of the last 5 years.
o 2013- Luke Joeckel #2 to the Jaguars
o 2012- Matt Kalil #4 to the Vikings
o 2011- Tyron Smith #9 to the Cowboys
o 2010- Trent Williams #4 to the Redskins
o 2009- Eugene Monroe #8 to the Jaguars
Compare this to the amount of TE’s that have been taken in the top 10 in these drafts, zero. This evidence suggests that LT is more important when stabilizing a sputtering offense.
As a matter of fact there has only been 3 TE’s taken in the first round altogether in the last 5 years
o 2013- Tyler Eifert #21 to the Bengals
o 2010- Jermaine Gresham #21 to the Bengals
o 2009- Brandon Pettigrew #20 to the Lions.
The Ravens 2012 Super Bowl run is a perfect example of why an offensive line is so important to a team’s overall success. Much is made of Joe Flacco’s stellar playoff performance where he tied Joe Montana’s record for most touchdowns with no interceptions on his way to being a Super Bowl MVP. However, that wouldn’t have been possible if it hadn’t been for the stellar play of the offensive line.
The Ravens paid Flacco a lot of money to be their franchise quarterback. Long departed Bryant McKinnie made a great analogy last offseason when talking about the value of a good left tackle protecting Joe.
“They bought a Maserati, now they need to pay for the insurance.”
Of course McKinnie was the insurance in the equation, and we all know how that worked out, but it was a good point regardless.
Eugene Monroe must be a big part of that policy.
Submitted by guest blogger Ryan Jones