For those who thought Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome was satisfied with the personnel on the offensive side of the football, the Ravens GM decided to make a splash and add Jacksonville Jaguars left tackle Eugene Monroe via trade.
According to ESPN, pending a physical, Jacksonville will send their 26-year-old tackle to Baltimore in exchange for multiple draft picks. Monroe finds himself in the final year of his rookie contract and is set to make $4 million this season. The five-year veteran has been holding down the left tackle position while the No. 2 overall selection Luke Joeckel has been working on the right side. You have to wonder if the move to left tackle was inevitable for the former Texas A&M Aggie, but it is surprising to see Monroe go.
The Ravens will still have to clear $1.3 million in salary cap space in order to bring Monroe aboard, but it seems as if they were already trying to do so today after cutting ties with former 2012 fourth-round selection Christian Thompson. According to The Baltimore Sun, Thompson was suspended for the first four games of the regular season for violating the NFL‘s substance-abuse policy and was subsequently released immediately following the suspension. You have to wonder what other move may transpire in order to bring Monroe on the team.
The former Virginia Cavalier is set to become a free agent this offseason, but coming into Baltimore at such a young age could mean he may be set for a long-term stay with a winning organization. Given that the Ravens have already dealt with their fair share of cap troubles this offseason, I’m sure Newsome and the gang will find a way to make room and ink Monroe to be the left tackle for this football team going forward.
Snagging Monroe is essentially like drafting a top-notch tackle in the early stages of the first round, and the Ravens haven’t had that luxury because they’ve been too busy winning the Super Bowl and going deep into the playoffs. When you’ve made the postseason five-consecutive years, you’re going to be stuck in the back end of drafts and finding a starting left tackle in the late 20s is pretty difficult. Monroe is highly regarded across the league, but disappears from headlines and mainstream sports talk because he played in Jacksonville.
People are probably wondering what this means for the future of current left tackle Bryant McKinnie, who sources say was stunned by the move. McKinnie has struggled early on, but the 34-year-old still has a year remaining on his two-year contract with Baltimore. The former Miami Hurricane has underwhelmed thus far and has shown why no one was high on him during the free agent period of the offseason.
Monroe may not be the immediate fix at left tackle as you can’t forget about Kelechi Osemele and Marshal Yanda. Yes, these are the two starting guards for the Ravens, but they have some experience at tackle if need be. If McKinnie doesn’t step up, it would seem as if it’s only a matter of time before either his release from the football team, which I don’t expect, or Monroe to supplant him in the starting lineup. Once Monroe learns offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell‘s playbook, McKinnie’s days as a starter will likely be over. After all, giving up four sacks and 12 hits on Joe Flacco as an offensive line group against the Buffalo Bills warrants changes in the personnel groupings.