Torrey Smith supports Ray Rice moving forward
After trading two draft picks for left tackle Eugene Monroe last October, the Ravens would like to sign Monroe to be their left tackle for the foreseeable future.
But if he hits the free agent marketplace, Monroe is expected to have suitors, some of whom have deeper pockets (i.e. more salary cap space) than the Ravens. Here's a sobering thought: What if they lose Monroe? Who lines up at left tackle in the season opener next year?
Will maligned tackle Michael Oher be back after all, and on the left side no less? Would the loss of Monroe put more pressure on the Ravens to draft a rookie lineman? And are they comfortable putting a rookie in at left tackle, as the primary protector of Joe Flacco's blind side?
Monroe isn't Jonathan Ogden, but he's a solid and proven left tackle, and the Ravens picture without him is, if not bleak, at least a little foggy.
One short-term option would be moving Oher back to the left side. Oher is also a pending free agent, but he isn't going to command the salary that Monroe is, and coach John Harbaugh said last week that he would love to see the Ravens keep both Monroe and Oher.
By implication, that means he'd love to keep Oher, who struggled mightily at times last season.
Oher, who turns 28 in May, has bounced back and forth from left tackle to right tackle over his Ravens career and has said in the past he prefers the right side.
Rick Wagner, a fifth-round draft pick last year, is listed as Monroe's primary backup, but he did nothing last year to suggest he could make the leap to starting left tackle.
If the Ravens lose Monroe, a tackle such as Notre Dame's Zack Martin could be a more attractive -- or urgent -- first-round target for the Ravens in the draft in May.
The Ravens could also look to free agency, but left tackles on the market --- proven ones, at least -- don't come cheap. Monroe, Branden Albert (Chiefs) and Jared Veldheer (Raiders) are considered the top free agent tackles, and if the Ravens can't afford Monroe, the probably can't afford the others. The next, potentially slightly cheaper group, includes Anthony Collins (Bengals) and Rodger Safford (Rams).
Don't like the thought of Oher starting at left tackle? Hey, Bryant McKinnie is available. ...