The Ravens on Thursday signed third-year offensive lineman Patrick Mekari, a versatile blocker who’s developed into a reliable right tackle in a breakout season, to a contract extension through the 2024 season. The three-year contract is worth $15.4 million, according to the NFL Network.
Mekari, who’s started a career-high 10 games this season, was set to become a restricted free agent this offseason. He’s been the Ravens’ top offensive tackle amid a season of instability, and he enters Week 17 as Pro Football Focus’ No. 46-rated player at the position despite a couple of minor injuries.
“Pat is an easy decision,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said in a release. “He’s tough and gritty, smart, versatile and a five-position player who does everything the right way. Congratulations to Pat and his family, and thank you for playing like a Raven.”
Mekari, who joined the Ravens in 2019 as an undrafted rookie out of California, has started at center, guard and tackle over 36 career games and 23 starts with the team. He was forced into action at right tackle in September after injuries to left tackle Ronnie Stanley and second-year lineman Tyre Phillips forced Alejandro Villanueva to move back to the left side. In 373 pass-blocking snaps this season, Mekari’s allowed three sacks, according to PFF.
“Pat’s a great player, he’s always been a great player,” center Bradley Bozeman said last month. “Guy knows the game plan, he knows the playbook. He’s one of those computer chips out there, kind of knows everything. Great to have that guy out there. When I’m not for sure, I know he has my back to help me out, get things fixed on the field.”
With Mekari’s extension, the Ravens now have five tackles with starting experience under contract through next season. Stanley, an All-Pro in 2019, will be returning from his second straight season-ending ankle injury. Villanueva, who’s started 15 up-and-down games this season, turns 34 in September and could be a salary-cap casualty. Phillips has been injury-prone, and his future could be at guard. Ja’Wuan James is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon that’s pushed back his return until 2022.
Mekari, who’s played through ankle and hand injuries this season, could be the favorite to start at right tackle entering next year. He signed his contract Thursday in a personalized mechanic shirt, a fitting choice for a blue-collar player who had just two Division I scholarship offers in high school and didn’t participate in the NFL scouting combine or any postseason showcases two years ago.
“I’ve seen a guy that’s just playing the position, really, in all honesty, about as well as you could expect it to be played,” coach John Harbaugh said in October. “I couldn’t be more pleased with him — run blocking, pass protection — [and] his versatility, obviously, but he’s locked in at right tackle, and I couldn’t ask for a better player there right now.”