It's easy to look at the five-year, $37.5 million extension that the Ravens gave left tackle Eugene Monroe in March 2014 and declare it a colossal mistake by general manager Ozzie Newsome. Hindsight is 20/20, as they say. However, let's not forget that the deal was widely applauded when it went down.
The Ravens had been having left tackle issues since Jonathan Ogden retired. After the yearly drama involving Bryant McKinnie, they needed stability at the position and Monroe appeared to be just the man to provide it.
He missed only three games because of injury in his first four seasons in the NFL. He played pretty well after the Ravens acquired him early in the 2013 campaign. He was known as a workout warrior and he wanted to be in Baltimore because he had family in the area and he looked forward to being part of a winning organization.
The Ravens also paid him a market-value deal, and the $19 million Monroe got in guaranteed money was less than what fellow 2014 free agent offensive linemen Branden Albert (Glen Burnie) and Rodger Saffold got in what was a fast-moving market.
Sometimes, things just don't work out, and the Monroe extension clearly hasn't. But it's hard to question the wisdom of the move.
It's fair to question Newsome's inability to solidify the Ravens at wide receiver and in the secondary, and the team's early-round draft misses in recent years should be highly scrutinized. But the Monroe deal was the right move at the time.
The Ravens have a tough decision on their hands with Monroe. Cutting him this offseason would open up $2.1 million in salary cap room but it also would create $6.6 million in dead money. That's a lot of dead money. But at this point, the Ravens could just view the parting as necessary.
As I mentioned a couple of days ago, Monroe and the Ravens just haven't seemed to be on the same page the past 15 months or so. The Ravens asked him to do a simple contract restructure last offseason and Monroe declined, which is his prerogative.
I'm not sure that Monroe and offensive line coach Juan Castillo have ever seen eye-to-eye on the best way to go about things. And Monroe's inability to get and stay on the field has frustrated both him and the team.
I'm not sure the situation is unsalvageable but some work would obviously need to be done for him to return.
Kelechi Osemele held up pretty well in his first NFL start at left tackle and the Ravens are wise to give him an extended look there over the final three games.
Monroe's future in Baltimore is uncertain and James Hurst is clearly not the long-term answer. A successful audition will only help Osemele, who played left tackle at Iowa State, on the free agent market.
What I can't answer is whether it makes it more likely that he returns to the Ravens.
I've thought all along that the salary-cap challenged Ravens won't be able to afford Osemele. But if they see him as a potential long-term answer at left tackle and make him an offseason priority, that could change things.
The Ravens still haven't announced the Ryan Mallett signing and coach John Harbaugh made it clear Monday that the team is planning on promoting cornerbacks Jumal Rolle and Sheldon Price from the practice squad.
There will obviously be a need to make corresponding moves, but roster flexibility is not a problem. Chris Canty is heading to injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle, so that's one spot. Matt Schaub, Marlon Brown and Crockett Gillmore also could be I.R.-bound. And the acquisition of another quarterback probably jeopardizes Bryn Renner's roster spot as, well.
With three games remaining, the Ravens are in position to get the fourth overall draft pick. The Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans and San Diego Chargers all have three wins, while the Ravens are among four teams with four victories.
Even if the Ravens lose out – and that's a distinct possibility if not a likelihood given their remaining schedule – it's going to be tough to rise higher than the third pick.
That's because the Browns still have to play at Seattle and at Kansas City, and home against Pittsburgh. I'm not sure I see a win there. The Titans have to play at New England and Indianapolis, and home against Houston. They'll be significant underdogs in all three. The Ravens could, however, fall below the Chargers who play Miami, Oakland and Denver over final three games.
Canty's pectoral injury will give rookie Carl Davis a chance to get back in the defensive line rotation. The third-round pick has been inactive for three straight weeks.
Davis played a ton of snaps in the preseason and he might have hit the rookie wall a little bit, but ultimately, he just became a victim of a numbers game. The Ravens are deep along the defensive line and Davis and Kapron Lewis-Moore have been the odd men out. But Davis remains a nice NFL prospect.
Online Pro Bowl balloting closes today and the team will be announced live on NFL Network next Tuesday.
If you ask me, three Ravens have had seasons worthy of Pro Bowl recognition: right guard Marshal Yanda, nose tackle Brandon Williams and punter Sam Koch.
Anybody beyond that would be a little bit of a stretch, but we'll see what happens.
Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Khalil Mack's emergence as one of the league's top pass rushers certainly isn't a surprise to Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome. Remember, the Ravens were aggressive in trying to move up in the 2014 draft to get in position to draft Mack, the former University of Buffalo standout.
The Ravens had the 17th overall pick and knew that they needed to get in the top five to select Mack, a player that they coveted. Their offer to the Raiders included their first-rounder in 2014 and a future first-rounder, if not more.
The Raiders declined and selected Mack with the fifth overall pick. The Ravens stayed at 17 and drafted C.J. Mosley and have no regrets with that selection despite the inside linebacker's uneven sophomore season.