Both of the Ravens starting offensive tackles were first round draft picks in the 2009 NFL Draft.
Both will become free agents following the 2013 season.
Both Eugene Monroe and Michael Oher will NOT be calling Baltimore their football home in 2014.
One of the bright spots so far this season has been the play of LT Monroe since the Ravens traded for him back on October 2, 2013. Outside of a miscue that allowed Packers’ LB Nick Perry to strip-sack Joe Flacco during the waning moments of the first half on October 13, things have been quiet on the left side of the Ravens O-Line.
And that’s a good thing.
To get Monroe the Ravens sacrificed a fourth and a fifth round pick in the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft. Parting ways with draft picks for Ozzie Newsome & Co. is akin to Charlie Sheen choosing celibacy. So it stands to reason that the Ravens made the deal with the intent of re-signing Monroe long-term.
If the Ravens wait there are risks.
Upon his arrival Monroe probably felt relieved, suddenly removed from the NFL’s purgatory in Jacksonville, FL. He was the newest member of the World Champions, a perennial playoff contender and participant in three of he last five AFC Championship Games.
The team is led by a head coach who is 5 for 5 in playoff attempts, a GM generally recognized as among the game’s best and an owner who doesn’t meddle yet possesses a unique way of improving organizational accomplishment with a resourceful guiding hand.
The city embraces the team and packs M&T Bank Stadium with enthusiasm each and every home Sunday. In Baltimore they are king!
What player wouldn’t want to be a Raven?
But 2013 isn’t your typical Ravens season. It’s the first without Ray Lewis and it’s the one of the few times that a defending Super Bowl Champion has carried a record of (3-5) into Week 10. Monroe is also tied to an offensive line that can’t even crack 3 yards per carry despite a talented backfield.
The longer the Ravens wait, the higher Monroe’s price will be and it may be a price that the Ravens can’t afford given the potential salary cap issues that loom due to underperforming high priced talent like Haloti Ngata, Lardarius Webb, Marshal Yanda and Ray Rice.
More losses could accumulate.
Locker room tensions could climb.
Harbaugh and his coaches could lose the team’s confidence.
Of course a winning streak could cure all of this but based on 2013’s body of work so far, are the Ravens capable of a second half rally? Is the consistency there to allow the Ravens to go on a second half roll?
As each game passes and as the positive grades on Monroe accumulate and he gets closer to the end of the season when he’ll earn the title, “free agent”, 2009’s 10th overall pick will demand more money.
So what will it cost to get Monroe’s John Hancock on the dotted line now? A look at this past off-season’s free agent tackle signings reveals the following:
- Cherilus’ guaranteed includes the $10 million signing bonus and all of his first-year base salary.
Given the above a fair deal for Monroe would be in the range of 4 years, $36-40M or 5 years, $45-50M, with about $20M guaranteed.
Based upon the low signing bonuses from the 2013 free agency period, the Ravens could easily structure a deal with a 2014 Cap number in the $2-5M range.
Waiting could prove costly and it could jeopardize the club’s chances of re-signing other key players like Daryl Smith and Arthur Jones. It could also place the Ravens in a bidding war with other teams willing to spend with a need to protect their QB’s like the Redskins and Dolphins for example.
A team struggling on the offensive front, a major problem that has had a negative rippling effect, can’t afford to lose its best linemen.
Do your thing Ozzie and do it now.
Your patience has rewarded you in the past but this isn’t one of those times.
In the NFL bad things can happen to those who wait…too long.
Brian McFarland contributed to this article