The Ravens did it again.
They aren’t the ones to steal the headlines on the first day of free agency -- they’ll leave that to teams like the Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins -- and they weren’t able to keep everyone they would have liked -- Arthur Jones will be missed in the trenches and in the locker room -- but within an hour of the official start of free agency Tuesday, the Ravens had taken care of their top two offseason priorities.
Keeping pass-catching tight end Dennis Pitta? Check (done last week to avoid anxious moments Tuesday). Re-signing left tackle Eugene Monroe, whom they traded two picks to acquire during the season? Check.
From the outside looking in, their handling of the Monroe situation was masterful. They put an offer on the table for him and didn’t blink when Monroe and his agent were able to shop it on the open market. On Sunday night, my colleague Aaron Wilson reported that there was increased confidence in the Castle that they would be able to keep Monroe after the game of musical chairs on a crowded tackle market unofficially started to wind down.
On Tuesday afternoon, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter and other national reporters put Twitter’s servers to the test with a flurry of tweets about the destination of dozens of free agents, including Jones, the Ravens were hammering out the details on a deal that will pay Monroe about $7.5 million annually over five years, according to Wilson.
Not too shabby for the top tackle on the market.
Instead of panicking and overpaying for a solid but not elite left tackle, the Ravens arguably got the best bargain out of the group of top free-agent tackles that included Branden Albert (signed by Miami), Jared Valdheer (Arizona) and Rodger Saffold (Oakland).
After taking care of their top priorities at team-friendly prices -- something that was preceded by the Ravens extending rush linebacker Terrell Suggs and freeing up some salary-cap space a couple of weeks ago -- the Ravens still have the cap space to make another significant signing or two should they choose to do so. That is normally not their style, though.
Still, if players such as former New England Patriots slot receiver Julian Edelman or former Buffalo Bills free safety Jairus Byrd linger on the market long enough for their asking prices to go down, the Ravens could choose to strike.
But even if Monroe and Pitta are the only two marquee free agents they sign during this first wave of free agency -- and if they can cheaply re-sign or replace guys like middle linebacker Daryl Smith and cornerback Corey Graham -- the Ravens should feel good about what they have been able to accomplish during the past few weeks.
Like I said, they did it again.