With such a big change coming to an underperforming offensive line that Ravens coach John Harbaugh described as disappointing Monday, a clear message has been delivered.
Monroe, 26, is younger, fitter and playing at a higher level than McKinnie, a 34-year-old former Pro Bowl blocker whose play has been sluggish, weight has been too high and whose blocking grades have been too low through four games.
- Ravens and Steelers wheel and deal for tackles
Who's getting the better tackle, Ravens or Steelers?
As the Ravens complete a deal for the Jaguars' Eugene Monroe, the Steelers are also completing a trade for an offensive tackle -- Levi Brown of the Cardinals.
- Sports Blitz: Eugene Monroe could be impressive upgrade
- 2013 Ravens cheerleaders [Pictures]
- Mike Preston grades the Ravens for the 2013 season
- 2013 Ravens Insider covers
See more photos »
McKinnie likely will become a backup with the trade, which he's earned through his lackluster play. McKinnie has lacked punch at the point of attack as a run blocker and isn't moving his feet well for the NFL's 28th-ranked running game.
Although aware of the trade Tuesday night, McKinnie said he was waiting to hear from team officials about the immediate effect on his standing with the defending Super Bowl champions.
It's unclear if the Ravens would immediately plug Monroe into the starting lineup Sunday against the Miami Dolphins after he takes and passes a physical, but there's really no reason why he couldn't play after a crash course in the playbook.
Against the Houston Texans, McKinnie resorted to illegal facemask penalties to block Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and was fined $7,850.
McKinnie has allowed one sack, 10 quarterback hurries and two quarterback hits in pass blocking and has a minus-5.9 grade overall, according to Pro Football Focus.
There's really no upside to cutting McKinnie since his $1 million base salary is already guaranteed for the season as a vested veteran and he was paid a $2 million signing bonus in May and a $200,000 reporting bonus as part of a two-year, $6.3 million deal.
The Ravens will need to make a roster move to create a spot for Monroe, but expect it to be from a player low on the depth chart that's not in the team's plans. The pending move will also need to create salary-cap space for the Ravens, who were $1.213 million under the NFL salary cap limit of $123 million prior to the deal.
Monroe has already been paid four $223,529 game checks totaling $894,117. So, the Ravens are on the hook for $2.9 million for the remainder of the season.
McKinnie, a 6-foot-8 lineman, reported to training camp overweight, much higher than his prescribed target weight of 346 pounds, according to sources.
And his performance at practices has prompted some observers to describe his work ethic as questionable and his focus as disinterested, wondering about McKinnie's motivation. The weight continues to be an issue for McKinnie, who hasn't dropped much weight since reporting to camp.
McKinnie's current deal has an annual $100,000 weight clause to be paid $6,250 per game that he's at his target weight. It's unclear if he's been qualifying for those checks, though.
During an August interview, McKinnie griped about the focus on his conditioning after reporting to camp overweight for the second consecutive year.
"I don't know why this weight thing is following me back every year," McKinnie said. "I reported overweight one year, and now it's a constant thing. The thing about it is when people see me, they feel I lost or gained weight. It's not an issue. I'm not like a big, huge guy.
"I'm not fat or sloppy. People will see me and they're like, 'Oh, you lost a lot of weight.' Actually, I didn't. It's just every time I'm overweight, whether it's five or 10 pounds, people assume I ballooned up like crazy."