Guard Marshal Yanda and the Ravens have agreed to a contract extension through the 2020 season, the team announced Thursday, ending uncertainty over whether the team’s top offensive lineman would return this year.
Yanda was under contract through 2019, and general manager Eric DeCosta said at the team’s predraft news conference last week that the front office hoped the six-time All-Pro would “continue to play for us for years.” But Yanda, 34, had not said publicly whether he intended to return for his 13th season.
“We love Marshal,” DeCosta said. “He's a great player that's still playing at a high level. He's a Raven. I mean, if you could define a Raven, you'd put a picture of Marshal Yanda up there.”
Terms of the extension were not announced, but Yanda is due $7 million in base salary next season and has a salary cap hit over $10.1 million.
Yanda said last season that he would wait until the offseason to decide on “big-picture stuff,” including his future in Baltimore. His past year gave him a lot to reflect on.
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After suffering a season-ending ankle injury early in the 2017 season, Yanda hurt his shoulder while lifting weights during the offseason, requiring another operation. He began training camp in mid-July on the physically-unable-to-perform list and didn't return to practice until early August. He sat out all five Ravens preseason games before taking the field at M&T Bank Stadium for the season opener in his usual spot at right guard.
Yanda played throughout the season as if he’d been given a clean bill of health. He allowed just 15 pressures and no sacks, according to Pro Football Focus — he has given up just one sack overall since 2015 — and led all guards in offensive snaps played during the regular season. After quarterback Joe Flacco was hurt and the Ravens transitioned to a run-first offense under rookie Lamar Jackson, Yanda became an avatar for the team’s renewed smashmouth philosophy.
“Obviously, we want to win the game any way possible, but getting to run the football and getting those carries, yeah, it's awesome,” Yanda said after the Ravens ran for 242 yards in a late-November victory over the Oakland Raiders, one of six victories in seven games to end the season. “We really enjoyed it. It's fun. I enjoyed running the football, but I understand, too, that we're going to have to pass a certain amount to get that done, too. But yeah, O-linemen love pounding the rock.”
Yanda was voted to his seventh Pro Bowl in the past eight seasons and graded out as the NFL’s No. 4 guard, according to PFF, but his season was not without controversy. Just as the Ravens’ run to an AFC North title was beginning, video emerged of a wad of spit falling from Yanda's mouth as he stood over Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict in Week 11. Yanda acknowledged that he was spitting, but that it landed on the ground. He said he’d raised his left hand afterward to make sure it hadn’t fallen on anyone.
In an emotional news conference, Yanda said he takes “a lot of pride in my character and how I was raised and the things that I do, day in and day out. I would never, ever spit on another man, another person, individual, ever. On the field, off the field, never. That's not the the way I was raised.”
Yanda will again be the elder statesman of a line that ranked as PFF’s third-most efficient pass-blocking team last season. He remains the only current Ravens offensive lineman born in the 1980s; returning starters Ronnie Stanley, James Hurst, Matt Skura and Orlando Brown Jr. range in age from 22 to 27. Brown said he’s “somebody in the meeting room that we all look to for answers.”
“He’s been through a lot, come off some injuries the last couple years, rehabbed really well, and I would say, yes, is playing at his customary high level,” coach John Harbaugh said last season. “I’m really happy that we have him out there. He’s a difference-maker.”