I’ve heard no definitive updates from either side on the Ravens’ negotiations with pending free-agent offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele. That’s not surprising, and Ravens coach John Harbaugh acknowledged that the organization fully expects Osemele and his agent to shop the offer.
Look, I don’t know what’s going through Osemele’s head right now, but put yourself in his shoes for a moment: In about 10 days, he could enter a free-agent market that is overflowing with teams who have offensive line needs and millions of dollars to spend. The 26-year-old, who won a Super Bowl ring as a rookie, can pretty much name his team and his price.
Perhaps he ultimately decides that he has a good thing going with the Ravens, who have offered to compensate him more than fairly. But you can’t blame Osemele if he wants to at least see what else is out there.
There’s been a lot of chatter about how the Ravens' disclosure of their offer to Osemele affects the organization’s relationship with veteran left tackle Eugene Monroe. It shouldn’t.
Monroe is a smart guy. If the writing wasn’t on the wall late in the season when the Ravens moved Osemele from left guard to tackle, it surely was when team officials gave him a tepid endorsement in the “State of the Ravens” address last month, and again last week, when general manager Ozzie Newsome remarked that Monroe was considered the starter only because Osemele is a pending free agent.
The Ravens could hold on to Monroe and wait and see whether they re-sign Osemele or sign or draft another tackle, but this still has an inevitable feel to it. I said both sides probably would benefit from a parting late in the 2015 season, and it looks like that’s the case even more so now.
Whatever decision Osemele makes, it’s pretty clear that the Ravens are going to have a new starting left guard next season. Assuming that the Ravens don’t draft or sign one, John Urschel figures to enter training camp atop the depth chart. But don’t count out Ryan Jensen. The coaching staff was very pleased with the improvement that he showed last season. He has a nastiness to him, too.
The NFL draft is a little over eight weeks away, and the combine ends today. A lot can and will change over the next two months. But let’s assume that the top five picks, in no particular order, are Mississippi offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey, California quarterback Jared Goff, North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz and Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner.
I don’t think they will be — I’m still not convinced that the Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys take a first-round quarterback — but that’s probably the consensus top five now, so let’s go with it. That would leave the Ravens with six logical choices at No. 6: Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, Mississippi wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, UCLA linebacker Myles Jack, Ohio State pass rusher Joey Bosa, Eastern Kentucky pass rusher Noah Spence and Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves.
I don’t have a clue at this point how the Ravens’ board looks, but mine probably would go like this:
1. Bosa: Couldn’t pass up the best pass rusher in the draft, but his adaptability to 3-4 defense, explosiveness have to be concerns.
2. Jack: The Ravens badly need to upgrade speed and athleticism on defense, and he has star potential.
3. Hargreaves: Evaluators seem sold that he’ll start and hold his own immediately.
4. Spence: Very tempting, but the Ravens can’t miss on this pick, and there’s just a little too much risk with his past drug issues.
5. Stanley: Sounds like everyone agrees that he’ll be a good player, but Ravens need more than that.
6. Treadwell: Again very tempting, but the Ravens' history of drafting receivers and the questions about his speed are just too hard to overlook this early in the draft.
The fact that the Ravens notified agent Robert Roche that they will put the franchise tag on his client, kicker Justin Tucker, four days before they had to make the decision tells me one thing: the two sides realized very quickly when they sat down last week that they were too far apart to come to an agreement.
If they were even remotely close, they probably would have spent considerable time trying to bridge the gap. But why delay the inevitable when there’s too much ground to make up in too little time?