By Aaron Wilson
The Baltimore Sun
8:26 AM EST, March 4, 2014
Now that the Ravens have decided not to designate offensive tackle Eugene Monroe as their franchise player, negotiations between the two sides are slated to continue.
It would have cost the Ravens $11.654 million on a one-year franchise tag for Monroe, an expensive proposition.
With that decision, though, the clock is ticking toward March 11, when Monroe is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. NFL teams can start talking with Monroe, one of the top free-agent tackles along with Kansas City Chiefs lineman Branden Albert, during the legal tampering period that begins Saturday.
Whether the Ravens, who traded fourth- and fifth-round draft picks to the Jacksonville Jaguars in October for Monroe, can find a middle ground with him in contract talks remains to be seen. Sources have said that the sides are far apart.
In terms of total compensation and average per year, some recent offensive tackle deals could be applicable comps to Monroe, a 26-year-old blocker in his prime.
While Monroe isn't necessarily expected to command a deal like the Philadelphia Eagles' Jason Peters ($48.3 million total, $9.57 million annual average, $19.55 million guaranteed) or the Houston Texans' Duane Brown ($55.492 million total, $8.9 million annual average, $22 million guaranteed) or the Denver Broncos' Ryan Clady ($52.5 million total, $10.5 million annual average, $33 million guaranteed), there are plenty of other comparisons.
Last year, the St. Louis Rams signed veteran offensive tackle Jake Long to a $34 million contract that averages $8.5 million per year and included $16 million guaranteed. Long was coming off some injuries, which depressed his value.
The Long deal and a few other recent contracts fall into that second tier of highest-compensated tackles.
That includes some players Monroe is arguably more valuable than, including: New York Giants offensive tackle William Beatty ($37.5 million total, $7.5 million annual average and $19 million guaranteed) Atlanta Falcons offensive tackle Sam Baker ($41.1 million total, $6.85 million annual average, $18.25 million guaranteed), Chicago Bears offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod ($35.96 million total, $7.1 million annual average, $17.715 million guaranteed and San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Anthony Davis ($37.3 million total, $6.5 million annual average and $17 million guaranteed).
Monroe should fit somewhere into this financial neighborhood.
And his compensation could climb even higher if he hits free agency, where a potential bidding war could commence among other teams in need of a tackle. That list includes the Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers.