The moment Eugene Monroe, above, was acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars, he became the left tackle of the future for the Ravens — provided that he performs well enough this year, the last on his contract, and an accord can be reached on an extension. Both are considered likely outcomes at this point. What Monroe might not be is the Ravens' left tackle Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. Even if Monroe is active, there's a big learning curve he must overcome before he replaces Bryant McKinnie on the left side. Most likely, McKinnie will start this week, with Monroe active and used in spot duty. Still, Monroe is considered an upgrade over McKinnie. At 26 years old, he's eight years younger than McKinnie, roughly 50 pounds lighter and considerably more athletic and motivated at this stage of his career. Monroe, who played at Virginia with Ravens Southeast area scout Ian Cunningham, is dedicated to his conditioning and has been durable. The Ravens are on the hook for only $546,765 in base salary and salary cap impact with Monroe, after sending fourth- and fifth-round picks to the Jaguars. "It's a heck of a deal, a very good deal," said former longtime Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman Jamie Dukes, an NFL Network analyst. "Monroe's a tough player, a no-nonsense kind of guy. He's not of the elite left tackles, but he's a good football player. It's an upgrade. If they like him, they can sign him." As for McKinnie? The hefty 6-foot-8, 360-pounder, who signed a two-year, $6.3 million contract in May that included a $2 million signing bonus, could be on borrowed time. "McKinnie was a stopgap anyway," Dukes said. "He was always stopgap, year to year, and borrowed baggage. He finally got a deal Ozzie was willing to pay him in the spring, but he was never going to be the guy. He was fat when he got there. He was fat up in Minnesota when he was with the Vikings. Baltimore was never going to change him."
Kevin Richardson, Baltimore Sun