Free agency does not begin until 4 p.m. Tuesday, but the Ravens could know their fate in the free-agent tackle market quickly if this weekend was any indication.
With other veteran left tackles such as Branden Albert and Jared Veldheer already being linked with other teams, there is growing optimism that Baltimore could re-sign Eugene Monroe despite electing not to use the franchise tag on the incumbent left tackle. The Ravens and Monroe have remained in negotiations since last Monday’s deadline passed when they didn’t use the $11.65 million franchise tender to keep him off the free-agent market.
Reports have indicated that Monroe is seeking upwards of $10 million a year while the Ravens have preferred a contract closer to $8 million annually, so it remains to be seen whether the sides will be willing to bridge the gap prior to Tuesday afternoon.
Multiple reports are saying Albert is expected to leave Kansas City to sign a long-term contract with the Miami Dolphins while Veldheer — who passed on a long-term extension offer from Oakland earlier in the weekend — could land with the Arizona Cardinals. After these two chips would potentially fall, that would leave the Ravens to potentially work something out with Monroe while Oakland and Tampa Bay potentially eye St. Louis tackle Roger Saffold and Cincinnati’s Anthony Collins.
Of course, none of these weekend “revelations” are set in stone as it’s difficult to decipher what’s conjecture and what’s authentic as teams and player agents are jockeying for the best possible prices and fits they can find. But the amount of smoke coming from the three-day negotiating window indicates there could be rapid movement as the Ravens try to secure their left tackle for 2014 and beyond.
If Albert, Veldheer, and Monroe find contracts elsewhere, the Ravens would be faced with the prospects of rolling the dice on a second-tier option such as Saffold or Collins or deciding they will address other needs while looking seriously toward May’s draft to address the tackle spot. Of course, Michael Oher is also set to become an unrestricted free agent and could be an option once again at left tackle, but all signs have pointed to him being more of a Plan C or D option leading into the start of free agency.
Baltimore enters free agency with just under $25 million in cap space before potentially addressing six exclusive-rights free agents and restricted free-agent wide receiver Tandon Doss. Linebacker Albert McClellan was scheduled to become a restricted free agent before reportedly agreeing to a two-year deal Sunday.