Some of you don’t even know who Marshall Yanda is. For those who do, if you have done your homework, you know that he is slightly overpaid. No offensive guard is worth a $7.4 million cap number — at least not one on the Baltimore Ravens. Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome may be a salary cap-managing guru, however, this 2011 move was a “faux pas” by the Ravens to appease fans for the later loss of Ben Grubbs to the New Orleans Saints via free agency in 2012. There are cheaper options down the depth chart who can perform just as well.
Yanda was selected in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft from Iowa by the Ravens. In his first year, he became a plug-in starter due to the lack of competition. Chris Chester was his only competition, but he could not keep the weight on. In that first year, fans grew frustrated with Yanda’s constant false starts. Eventually, Yanda settled down and proved to coaches he was worth keeping around for a while. His nasty run-blocking skill set shined through very well against the New England Patriots in 2007. He contributed to Willis McGahee racking up 138 rushing yards and a score, which almost tainted the Patriots’ undefeated season. That game is one of the critical reasons he still is here in Baltimore.
Since 2007, Yanda has done his job: he filled a hole. He has contributed to the Ravens’ 2009 rushing attack, which ranked fifth in the league. Still as a guard, Yanda is really nothing flashy. He has good run-blocking skills, mediocre pass protection and even fills in at tackle when needed. He struggles at RT because he is a true guard, but as a true team player, he plays where coaches need him.
Newsome will be faced with a difficult decision of restructuring Yanda’s contract or releasing the 2011 Pro-Bowler due to his $8.4 million cap number in 2014. If Newsome is not willing to keep one of the best run-blocking fullbacks in football for a $4.3 million annual salary, then he surely is not going to keep Yanda on at $8.4 million.
Yanda is the fourth-highest paid guard in the NFL, and five years, $32 million is a bit steep for a slightly above average guard. Kelechi Osemele, Jah Reid and Ramon Harewood just make more sense for the Ravens financially. Look for Newsome to save a little cap room in 2014 with the departure of this tantamount player.