Offensive tackles Michael Oher and Eugene Monroe, tight end Dennis Pitta, linebacker Daryl Smith, defensive lineman Arthur Jones and cornerback Corey Graham are all free agents. The team needs to re-sign as many of them as possible if they want to get back to the playoffs in 2014. This, after missing the postseason in 2013 for the first time since John Harbaugh became the team's head coach in 2008.
According to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun, the Ravens continue to make re-signing Monroe a priority, but they won't use the franchise tag on him. The team traded fourth-round and fifth-round draft picks to the Jacksonville Jaguars to acquire Monroe in October for an upgrade at left tackle. He played well enough that they now believe he's the long-term answer there.
If Monroe walks, they'll lose arguably their best offensive lineman, and the picks they traded to get him will essentially have been wasted. Re-signing him is the top priority for the Ravens, and that's no surprise based on Harbaugh's lobbying to bring back Monroe after their season ended. Harbaugh said, via the Carroll County Times:
I don’t think there’s any question that people feel like Eugene Monroe is a long-term answer at left tackle. Everybody around the league feels that way. And he’s here. He likes it here. He did a heck of a job.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Monroe's plus-24.0 grade was the highest any Ravens player received in 2013, so it's easy to see why the team wants to re-sign him so badly.
If the Ravens are able to sign him to a long-term deal, it will provide stability along an offensive line that struggled mightily last year while allowing 48 sacks. That was tied with the Buffalo Bills for the fourth-most allowed in the NFL in 2013.
Stability along the offensive line needs to be a priority for the Ravens this offseason, but if they lose Monroe in free agency, it will be a significant step backwards for them.