5 Reasons Jared Gaither Won't Be With the Baltimore Ravens in 2011
Let me make one thing very clear: I think Jared Gaither is an incredible athlete, and is a very, very good football player.
If I ran the Ravens, he would probably be on my team.
But I don't run the Ravens, and the people who do probably know more about football than I do.
While there is lots of uncertainty about the 2011 NFL season, there is one thing I think is certain: Jared Gaither won't be a Raven.
Jared Gaither wants to play left tackle. It's his natural position, and he has (or had) the size and athleticism for the position.
But, perhaps you've heard of Michael Oher. Oher also has the talent to play either right or left tackle. While he had a rough year last year, he's still developing, and I think the Ravens are committed to making Oher the long term left tackle on this team.
Finding another right tackle in the draft or free agency would be far easier than trying to convince Gaither to move, and may be the right call against moving Oher back to the right side.
Gaither Is Injury Prone
Gaither missed 5 games in 2009 and all of 2010. He's suffered head, foot, and back injuries in just a short four years in the league.
His most recent back problems appear to have been resolved, but he is yet to be cleared by the Ravens to play.
Couple the injury issues with the debate between Gaither and the Ravens on the severity of the injuries, as well as the clear communication issues on the injuries between the two sides, and I think the Ravens may decide Gaither no longer has the value to the team he once did.
Far be it for me to comment on an NFL player's work ethic. I've never seen Jared Gaither practice, and I have no idea how hard he works.
But I do know his work ethic has come in to question, both in college and with the Ravens.
He entered the 2007 supplemental draft because his academic problems were leading to his ineligibility to play for the Terps.
Rumors have swirled that he doesn't work as hard as he needs.
That's not going to fly on a Harbaugh coached Ravens squad.
Jared Gaither came in to camp last year at around 310 pounds, 30 pounds off his playing weight of 340 in 2009. To make things worse, he lost all the weight without consulting with the Ravens. I've not seen any clear explanation of the weight loss.
While he may have gained most of that weight back, at 6'9", he probably needs to be even bigger to play effectively.
He hasn't trained at the Ravens facility, instead choosing to work with his own trainer. If he's really committed to making things work with the Ravens, he should be working closely with the team to make sure he meets their needs, and where they differ with his opinion, they need to communicate clearly to stay on the same page.
I'm not sure that's happening.
Jared Gaither clearly was upset about the tender offer last year. He'll either be a Free Agent or Restricted Free Agent this year, and he's going to demand left tackle money.
The labor deal may still be uncertain, but there will always be a salary cap, and there will always be financial considerations.
Given the other free agents the Ravens will want to keep (Haloti Ngata being the biggest and most expensive), there may just not be enough money to keep Gaither happy and willing to work hard. The Ravens may think they can get a solid right tackle for much less money.
As much as I or the Ravens front office might like Jared Gaither, the NFL is still a business, and Gaither may command a price too rich for the Ravens to pay.