No tag for LT Monroe, but will Ravens lose him?

No tag for LT Monroe, but will Ravens lose him?
March 3, 2014, 4:45 pm
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Mike Florio talks the merits of re-signing Dennis Pitta

(Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports)

The Ravens did not use the franchise tag on left tackle Eugene Monroe by Monday’s deadline, and now risk losing him during free agency. Franchising Monroe would have kept him with the Ravens for one season, but with a hefty price tag - $11.654 million for next season.

This is a gamble by the Ravens, who want to re-sign Monroe, but not at $11.65 million per season. They still have until the March 11 start of free agency to get a deal done that would prevent Monroe from hitting the open market. However, if the Ravens do not re-sign Monroe, and he leaves during free agency, finding a solid left tackle for next season will not be easy. Both the Dolphins and Cardinals are reportedly extremely interested in Monroe. 

[MORE: Free agency wheels start turning]

The Ravens have the 17th pick in the draft, but top tackles like Greg Robinson of Auburn, Jake Matthews of Texas A & M, and Taylor Lewan of Michigan will almost surely be gone by the 17th pick. Another highly regarded tackle, Zack Martin of Notre Dame, could be gone by then as well.

Even if Martin is still on the board, do the Ravens really want to entrust quarterback Joe Flacco’s blindside to a rookie left tackle? Do they want to re-sign free agent Michael Oher, last year’s starting right tackle, and move him back to left tackle, where he has struggled in the past? Signing the top left tackle in free agency, Branden Albert of the Chiefs, could be more expensive than re-signing Monroe.

The Ravens traded their fourth-round and fifth-round picks in October to get Monroe from the Jaguars. Losing him after less than a year would be a serious blow.

So it comes down to this. If the Ravens re-sign Monroe before March 11, or during free agency, they will retain a key piece of their offensive line. But if Monroe walks as a free agent, the Ravens’ offensive line could be in more trouble than it was last season