Ravens Should Avoid Playing Tag With Monroe

Baltimore Ravens v Chicago Bears

How the Ravens ultimately deal with Eugene Monroe by the close of business today will be very interesting.

Monroe is generally considered to be an above average left tackle, ranking 12th in the NFL according to the drill down analytical machine called Pro Football Focus.

Is Monroe deserving of the elite label that comes with the franchise tag?

If the Ravens tag Monroe he’ll gobble up $11.654M of the team’s available cap space. That could handcuff Ozzie Newsome a bit as he tries to fill holes at the positions of center, wide receiver, right tackle, linebacker and safety.

Reports have indicated that the two sides are far apart, but of course we heard the same about the contract talks with Dennis Pitta and that negotiation ended happily.

If the Ravens allow Monroe to hit the open market it’s quite possible that an area of extreme weakness in 2013 (offensive line) could grow even weaker if the former Jaguar adds “former Raven” to his resume. Monroe is generally considered the best available free agent offensive tackle.

A strategy the Ravens could employ is to tag Monroe to block his availability, let the market simmer down and then negotiate in good faith. If the reported stalemate continues the Ravens could rescind the tag and add the $11.654M back to their cap availability.

The trump card in such a strategy however, belongs to Monroe. If he signs the franchise tag offer, the Ravens will be unable to rescind it.

As you can see, it’s quite the dilemma.

Chances are the Ravens are using the deal signed last year by the 2008 first overall pick Jake Long with the St. Louis Rams as a benchmark. Long’s deal was for four years and $34 million that included $16M guaranteed. Pro Football Focus graded Long out as the league’s 8th best tackle in 2013.

But 2013 was a year that had fairly flat growth in the salary cap. This year teams have a $133M cap figure and that could drive up contract values.

Clearly the Ravens are in a tough spot but the best thing they can do is to not set the market for Monroe. They should also avoid using the tag. Let’s not forget the Ravens were (5-6) with Monroe at left tackle – (3-2) with Bryant McKinnie manning the blind side.

The Ravens need to allow the market to set Monroe’s value and have Plan B ready if said value fails Ozzie’s “right player, right price” test.

Should the Ravens apply the franchise tag to Eugene Monroe?
Yes (42%)
No (58%)
This poll has completed. Thank you for voting.
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Tony Lombardi
Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin...more

15 Raves on “Ravens Should Avoid Playing Tag With Monroe

  1. John P on said:

    I can’t see them letting Monroe test the free agent market. It would mean they gave up a 4th & 5th for almost nothing. The fallout would be incredible.

    I just can’t imagine Ozzie didn’t walk through the contingencies at that time. I see them tagging him and negotiating in good faith.

  2. Fran the Fan on said:

    I agree with the post above. Ozzie and Eric cherish draft picks to the point of obsession and to think they would let the Ravens lose a 4th and a 5th for a one year rental is, well, unthinkable. Bisciotti would be on Newsome speed dial in a nanosecond. It killed them to give up two picks for Moore, but they will protect their investment and their loss by tagging big # 60 if things aren’t resolved by the end of the day.

  3. Cisco Kid on said:

    If Monroe walks, he’ll likely command a payday worth 8M plus average over four or five years…that’s enough that he’ll qualify for a 3rd-round comp pick next year, assuming the Ravens don’t go out and sign a blockbuster deal with a current UFA….So yes, they lose a 4th and 5th this year….They likely get a 3rd round comp pick next year….that’s basically a wash (i.e. a pick in the 90s=a pick in the 120s and 160s). Even if they only get a 4th rounder for Monroe, they basically rented a starting left tackle with a low salary for a 5th. And let’s not forget that they traded McKinnie for something (we don’t know what exactly but it’s believed to be a late pick in the 2015 draft).

  4. John P on said:

    Why not use the non-exclusive tag on him? That would essentially be trading a 4th & 5th for a 1st if we don’t match… And if he stays, it’s for less money.

    • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

      There’s still the price to pay ($11.654M) if he signs the FT offer and he doesn’t agree to a deal with another team. Monroe isn’t worth that money. Jake Long was better last offseason and Miami didn’t tag him. The result was a more acceptable contract albeit with a different team.

  5. SeaBass on said:

    there are other tackles available that will cost less (Veldheer, Collins), some quite a bit less and Ozzie has other needs as well.

  6. Joshua on said:

    Keeping Monroe allows for so much flexibility in the first round of what many pundits have labeled a deep and talented draft class. I understand the tag is quite high, but I just cannot see the team letting Monroe test the market after relinquishing two draft selections to obtain him.

    • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

      They can’t be held hostage by those two picks. They’ll get at least a fourth in 2015 for Monroe if he’s signed away and they can trade back in a round to pick up a fifth if they want to.

  7. JerryB on said:

    Frankly, they already appear to be hostage to that investment, but the real question is just how good this guy is! As you point out, they did better with McKinnie @ LT, but there were so many problems with the OL last year, that it’s not easy to evaluate him effectively! However this plays out, they need lots of help on the OL to get back to playoff caliber next year…..

  8. joe d on said:

    Why not slap the non-exclusive tag on him? That way they can let him negotiate with another team and match the offer or let him go for 2 first round picks. It’s unlikely anyone else would sign him but Miami may be desperate enough to give up 2 first round picks for him.

  9. jws on said:

    Some very good comments and responses from you TL as well.. As far as LT Long that was last year,one year ago not today’s market value. How good Long is compareed to Monroe is just NFLobservers opinions. Long’s contract is less than the last two signed LT signed since then.Now the Eagles LT tackle, Peterson, numbers have been released and wha tis likely the starting point for Monroe and his agenst demands in his contract. Peterson got 48.3 million over 4 years with 19.55 million guranteed and a 5 million upfront. One can easily argue Peterson is NOT as good as Monroe. The thought that a 4th rounder at the end of any round especially the 4th if that is what they would received in a comp pick is really a 5th rounderand that is better than a 4th round at the 17th pick this year is silly and is at least 15 players worse. Then throwing in a 5th this year in a deep talented draft class cannot be not be in the argued inteliegently. It time for some fair critical remarks on Ozzie and making a trade giving up valuable darft picks when the player they traded for is for a half a season. Tl you did not cover transition tagging that is less at 10 million and should be the team’s only other option. Do not tag Monroe sign Bengals LT Collin sif avaiable in free agency fast!

  10. Mark on said:

    Tony, As always, everything is relative. Zach Martin is likely the best realistic draft LT option at 17 and would seem to be a great ZBS fit as well as being coachable and versatile. Let Oher go too and get a ZBS RT or give Wagner a shot.
    On the other hand, with the new cap (and probable increases in the next few years) I think Monroe is deserving of a 5 or 6 year deal. “Right Price” just went up with the new cap and will keep doing so. Monroe with 5 years experience is only a year or two older than many rookies coming into the league. By all accounts, he is smart, takes care of himself, is agile enough to ZB and would finally give us a good, if not great answer at LT. I doubt playing next to Shipley gave us a real sense of what he can do. 5 years 45m/21 guaranteed/ cap friendly for 4 years sounds fair to me.

  11. Marcus on said:

    I have said this before and I will say it again. We really7 do not know how close or far apart the Ravens and Monroe are in the negotiations. I think they did not tag him because they are closer to signing him then anyone really knows or they have a realistic plan that they are pursuing. Either way, I trust Ozzie as we all should.

  12. Tucker: M&T Src527 on said:

    The witching hour has come and gone and no tag for Monroe. Of course they still could sign him before 3/8 (when other teams can talk w/ him or 3/11 (when other teams can offer/sign him), but today tells us that Monroe has overpriced himself in the Ravens’ mind. Let’s hope the League agrees, cause letting Oher walk is the right move, and I’d hate to have to replace both OTs in the same year. After The OL debacle of 2013, I’d rather have the serviceable devil we know @ LT (Monroe) than dive into the open market for one at a price we cannot control at all. Don’t forget we need to do something about center, too. Can’t spend all our cap room on the OL even if it was such an open wound in 2013, nor can we start 2 to 3 rookies on the OLD.

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