Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said firmly yesterday that Eugene Monroe is the team's starting left tackle heading into the 2016 season. Ravens coach John Harbaugh, though, isn't ready yet to anoint anyone.

"It's going to be a competition with those guys and whoever else we add," Harbaugh said on Day Two of the owners meetings, maintaining that five players are in the mix to start at left tackle.


Those are certainly contrasting opinions from two men who are normally in lockstep, and it prompted questions about whether Harbaugh and Bisciotti aren't seeing eye-to-eye on the status of Monroe. Perhaps, that's the case, though beyond yesterday's comments from each man, there's been no other obvious evidence of discord on this front.

What is probably a better explanation is that Bisciotti and Harbaugh have different perspectives.

As the owner, Bisciotti is going to predictably want a little more return on the five-year, $37.5 million investment the team made in Monroe before the 2014 season, especially when cutting him now would create $6.6 million of dead money on the salary cap. And Bisciotti can afford to show a little more confidence in Monroe because when healthy, he's still the best left tackle that the Ravens have on the roster.

"You have to know what you get out of the guy, and Eugene has been a pretty durable player these last couple years," Bisciotti said Tuesday. "But nobody works out harder than he does. I just feel bad. I think a lot of the speculation about us moving on from him clearly comes down to the fact that he's been hurt a lot, because he's played pretty well when he's been in there. We've always been happy with him when he's on the field."

Meanwhile, as the coach, Harbaugh is obviously not going to want to hand a starting position in March to a guy who hasn't been reliable the past two years. He's going to want Monroe to rehab hard from shoulder surgery and come to camp believing that he has to work hard to secure a job.

"I think all five linemen are definitely part of that," said Harbaugh when asked about his left tackle situation. Presumably, the fine men he's referring to are Monroe, starting right tackle Rick Wagner and former rookie free agents James Hurst, De'Ondre Wesley and Blaine Clausell. "You look at the guys that you got and how you position your line, you get your five best players out there where they can play their best. I don't have any doubt that all those tackles can play both sides.

"In some ways, the NFL has changed a little bit where it's not just left tackle-oriented, like it used to be maybe 10-15 years ago. It used to be a little more left tackle-oriented because the way protections are organized now, you can move that around a little bit. The blind side still is important. The quarterback does not see that tackle get beat when he's one-on-one, so it still has value. But there are ways to protect both tackles. It's going to be a competition with those guys and whoever else we add."

The reality is that the Ravens don't need to make a decision on Monroe for a several weeks anyway. His contract makes him more suited to be a post-June 1 release. By then, the Ravens will know if they added a left tackle in the draft, whether it's Notre Dame's Ronnie Stanley with the sixth overall pick or someone else. They'll know if there are any other quality left tackles that hit the market and there could be if Ryan Clady and/or D'Brickashaw Ferguson are let go by their respective teams. They'll also have a better idea of where Monroe is physically and mentally.

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