The Ravens fired an early shot heard 'round the league on the first day of free agency signings. They decided to retain the services of offensive lineman Eugene Monroe on a 5-year, $37.5 million deal, with reportedly $12 million of that money guaranteed.
I know Mr. and Mrs. Monroe are happy by the show of confidence from the Ravens. The couple can now put down some roots in the Baltimore area, where Mrs. Monroe is originally from.
Eugene won't have to worry about the doubts many, including myself, had expressed about his really being worth a long-term investment by the Ravens. Maybe it was unrealistic and unfair to compare him to Jason Peters or Joe Thomas. Even I didn't go so far as to compare him with Jonathan Ogden, the prototype left tackle perhaps of all time. But a lot of Ravens fans did---an unfair comparison indeed.
But I apologize to the Monroe family. I was wrong--- I had incorrectly predicted Eugene would be passed over by the Ravens. Obviously they grade him out much higher than they were letting on.
Details were finalized within the first hour of free agency. As Ryan Mink of Ravens.com humorously described it, "offensive tackles were flying off the shelves!"
The Miami Dolphins inked Brandon Albert to a five-year, $46 million contract ($9.2 million per year). The Oakland Raiders signed Rodger Saffold to a five-year, $42 million contact ($8.4 million per year). The Arizona Cardinals got Jared Veldheer for five years, $35 million ($7 million per year).
“I’m definitely juiced about it. How couldn’t you be?” Monroe told BaltimoreRavens.com.
“I was pretty confident that it would work out wherever it did, but definitely we had confidence that things could work out here. And I’m glad they did.”
Monroe was the top left tackle set to hit the free agent market, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). Again, I didn't have him ranked that high. PFF and apparently the Ravens see Monroe the same way---as a 26-year-old veteran who can still get a whole lot better.
Multiple reports indicated it was likely that Monroe would test the market and likely get more money elsewhere, but a domino effect of the other free agent tackles signing elsewhere left the Ravens and Monroe on the same path.
Monroe said he and his agent got an idea of the market’s interest in him as free agency approached, but were working with Baltimore the whole time.
Both sides wanted to make a long-term contract work from the start. Monroe is from New Jersey and played college football at Virginia. Monroe liked his time with the Ravens last year.
“It was obvious [I wanted to stay],” Monroe said. “This is home pretty much, especially for my wife who is from here. And my folks are right up the road. You can’t beat that, especially having kids and having been down in Florida the past four years.”
Baltimore surrendered 48 sacks last year, tied for the fourth-most in the NFL. The Ravens averaged 3.1 yards per carry, the lowest mark in the league. With a year under his belt in Baltimore, Monroe should help in both categories. He has the feet and ability to fit into new Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak’s zone run scheme.
“I’m definitely excited for this opportunity and the changes that the new coaches will bring,” Monroe said. “It’s definitely not something I’m unfamiliar with. Even this past year alone, being introduced into new systems, and prior to that another two, I’m definitely able to adapt and learn new things."
Learning new things would be advised for every offensive lineman on the Ravens roster, as the unit was so banged up, inconsistent and mostly ineffective for a big part of the 2013 season.
MEANWHILE IN IRSAY-LAND---- Arthur Jones as predicted got his payday somewhere else. No, he didn't get anything near to "Franchise" money for a defensive end---but he made out all right.
The former Ravens DE signed with the Indianapolis Colts immediately when free agency opened at 4 p.m. His deal is for 5 years for $30 million, with $8 million guaranteed, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and The Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson.
Jones is joining forces with former Ravens Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano, who is the Colts’ head coach. Pagano lured former Ravens defensive end Cory Redding to Indianapolis two years ago.
Jones, 27, was a top-25 item on the free agent market, and it was widely speculated that his price tag would mean he would leave Baltimore, similar to linebackers Paul Kruger (Cleveland) and Dannell Ellerbe (Miami) last offseason.
The Ravens drafted Jones in the fifth round in 2010 and he grew into a dependable, productive starter last season.
The Ravens could add a free agent, draft a rookie or turn to defensive ends
Tyson is a 2012 seventh-round pick out of Georgia who began to emerge last year. Playing behind Jones, he suited up for 13 games and logged 10 tackles and two sacks.
Lewis-Moore is a 2013 sixth-round pick out of Notre Dame who was recovering from a torn ACL for much of last year, then remained on injured reserve once he was healthy. He had 40 tackles, including eight and a half for loss and six sacks, during his senior season.
Hard to believe the Ravens couldn't have worked out a relatively modest $6 million cap-hit deal with Art Jones, especially when they were making it sound to the public like Jones would be asking for "too much, more than we could afford"... Heck, the Ravens virtually implied that Jones was seeking Franchise Tag money---which for a defensive end is $13.1 million per year. That idea turned out to be false.
The other thing you heard so often was the Ravens implying they could not sign both Monroe and Art Jones---that they couldn't afford both contracts at the same time. That in fact may turn out to be the truth. The Ravens are possibly strapped against the cap worse than we have realized.