Veteran offensive tackle Eugene Monroe has agreed to return to Baltimore in 2014, signing a contract with the Ravens, according to Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network:
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports had the terms of the agreement with the Ravens:
Monroe confirmed the deal on his Twitter account:
Monroe also issued more comments in a release on the Ravens' website:
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.
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.
The 6'5", 306-pound lineman spent the final three months of 2013 with the Baltimore Ravens after being traded by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 1. Monroe started the Ravens' final 11 regular-season games before becoming an unrestricted free agent this March.
Prior to this signing, Sports Illustrated's Peter King broke down Baltimore's unique situation:
The biggest beneficiary of the high-stakes left-tackle poker: the Ravens. They could get the player they’ve wanted to keep all along, Eugene Monroe, whom they acquired for two fourth-round picks in a mid-year trade with Jacksonville. Monroe is the consensus fourth man on the list for the other teams desperate for a left tackle.
Drafted eighth overall by the Jaguars in 2009, the 26-year-old Monroe is a well-rounded tackle who can hold up in pass protection and also move bodies and clear space in the running game.
Monroe, who has started 73 regular-season games since 2009, also demonstrates tremendous balance and footwork for a man his size.
For Baltimore, this signing is huge. Most of the top available tackles are already leaning toward or have made a decision on their future this spring. Not to mention the top-tier options are going to be expensive.
Plus, given the Ravens' struggles in the running game last year, they could ill afford to let Monroe walk. Baltimore ranked 30th in the league in rushing yards during the regular season and will also want to protect their $100 million quarterback, Joe Flacco, in the coming years.
By signing Monroe to a multiyear deal, the AFC North contenders have taken a significant step toward getting back to the postseason and competing for a Super Bowl title.
But there are still plenty more moves to be made by the Ravens' front office this offseason, including a decision on free-agent tackle Michael Oher. In February, head coach John Harbaugh was optimistic that the team could bring back both starters in 2014, per BaltimoreRavens.com's Garrett Downing:
I think there's a way. It just depends on the numbers. It all comes down to the math. We've got more salary-cap space, I think we found out yesterday, so that makes it a little brighter situation. As a coach, I would love to do that. I would love to see that happen.
If the Ravens are able to return Oher for cheap and address some of their other needs through free agency and the 2014 NFL draft this May, they're sure to be contenders once again in the watered-down AFC.
For now, Monroe's long-term deal provides the Ravens with stability on the edge. Monroe will turn 27 in April and can also become a mentor to any younger or inexperienced offensive lineman the Ravens bring in this offseason or the next.
Although Baltimore now has a lot of money wrapped up in Monroe, there's no doubt investing in the left tackle is the right decision, considering what the Ravens gave up for him last fall (two draft picks) and what he offers in terms of experience, durability and versatility.
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