Baltimore Ravens

Ravens LT Ronnie Stanley to undergo season-ending surgery for second straight year: ‘My ankle isn’t where it should be’

Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley, a cornerstone of the team’s offensive line, will undergo season-ending surgery for the second straight year, the team announced Tuesday.

Stanley, 27, has been sidelined since the team’s season opener against the Raiders. He’ll undergo surgery on Tuesday after being placed on injured reserve. An All-Pro selection in 2019, Stanley has played in just two games since signing a five-year, $98.8 million deal last October.


“This is not what I wanted or expected when coming into the season,” Stanley said in a statement released by the team. “Throughout the last year, I did everything I could to be 100% healthy so I could be out there playing for our team and city. As a competitor, I have a mindset of sacrificing my body for my brothers and my team to reach our goals. At this point in time, my ankle isn’t where it should be.

“This is the best decision not only for my health, but also for the team long term. I look forward to supporting my team from the sideline this season and coming back fully healthy in 2022.”


Stanley’s setback is the latest blow to a 5-1 Ravens team ravaged by injuries. In the preseason, the Ravens lost standout running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, veteran inside linebacker L.J. Fort and three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters to season-ending ACL tears and running back Justice Hill to an Achilles tendon tear. Starting tight end Nick Boyle (knee) and defensive lineman Derek Wolfe (hip/back) have yet to play. Rookie outside linebacker Daelin Hayes (ankle) and promising cornerback Chris Westry (knee) have appeared in just one game. Offensive linemen Tyre Phillips (knee) and Ben Cleveland (knee) have also spent time on IR.

The Ravens will enter Sunday’s AFC North showdown against the Cincinnati Bengals with the AFC’s best record and little margin for error at tackle. Alejandro Villanueva is rated No. 47 overall at the position through six weeks, according to Pro Football Focus, though his play has stabilized since a shaky start at right tackle in Week 1. Patrick Mekari, previously an interior lineman, is PFF’s No. 27 tackle; coach John Harbaugh said Monday that he “couldn’t ask for a better player there right now.”

But even with the return of second-year lineman Tyre Phillips and the addition of former Dallas Cowboys tackle Brandon Knight, the Ravens’ potential at one of the NFL’s most important positions is limited. Villanueva, 33, has battled a knee injury this season and lacks the athleticism that made Stanley so vital to the Ravens’ record-breaking rushing attack. He’s also protecting the blind side of quarterback Lamar Jackson, an NFL Most Valuable Player favorite who’s in line for the richest deal in franchise history.

Stanley’s IR designation comes almost a year after his initial ankle injury, which catalyzed a dramatic makeover of the tackle position in Baltimore. On Oct. 30, the 2016 first-round pick signed his contract extension, which included $70.9 million guaranteed. Despite a handful of minor injuries, Stanley led all NFL tackles at the time in pass-block win rate and ranked fifth in run-block win rate, according to ESPN. The year before, he hadn’t allowed a sack all season, according to Pro Football Focus.

“Ronnie is the mainstay on our offensive line,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said in a statement after finalizing the deal. “He’s a shutdown left tackle who excels on the field and in our community. This is just the beginning for Ronnie, and we could not be happier for him and his family.”

Two days later, during a loss to the Steelers, Stanley was carted off the field with a fractured and dislocated left ankle after Pittsburgh outside linebacker T.J. Watt inadvertently rolled into the back of Stanley’s lower leg. Even after he underwent a second surgery in the offseason, team officials were optimistic about Stanley’s long-term prognosis.

“I expect him to be back,” Harbaugh said in March. “But if not, as you all know, we have a left tackle who can play left tackle until he gets back. So we’re in good shape.”

Six weeks later, that changed. Six days before the NFL draft, in late April, the Ravens gave in to Orlando Brown Jr.’s trade demands, dealing the two-time Pro Bowl selection, who had starred as Stanley’s replacement at left tackle, to the rival Kansas City Chiefs. The first-round pick the Ravens received in the deal became outside linebacker Odafe Oweh, one of the NFL’s top rookies.


In May, after not drafting a tackle — “We’re not going to reach on guys,” DeCosta said — the Ravens signed former Pittsburgh Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva to a two-year, $14 million contract. With Stanley still on track to return to training camp, Villanueva transitioned to right tackle, where he’d played just nine snaps in his career.

Progress was slow for both. Stanley, sidelined for offseason workouts during his rehabilitation, didn’t make his training camp debut until Aug. 9. He said later that month that he was still regaining flexibility in his ankle, and that “I feel a little bit better every day I come back on the field.” Stanley didn’t appear in a preseason game until the finale, starting at left tackle while Villanueva, who’d struggled with inconsistency and minor injuries in camp, held down the right side.

Stanley said in late August that he planned to be a “full-go” for the Ravens’ Week 1 trip to his hometown of Las Vegas, but he struggled against the Raiders’ pass rush. Las Vegas pressured Jackson on over half of his drop-backs in a comeback overtime win, with Stanley allowing one quarterback hit and eight hurries, according to PFF.

Stanley hasn’t practiced since, and until this week, Harbaugh had declined to comment on his availability. Stanley’s only public comments have come on his new podcast with teammate with cornerback Marlon Humphrey and on social media. Days after the loss in Las Vegas, he shared a message on his Instagram story: “Everyone who doubted you today is going to regret that s**t tomorrow.”

Stanley has the third-highest salary cap hit on the Ravens’ roster this year ($10 million), and the figure is set to grow over the next four years: $18.6 million in 2022, $21.6 million in 2023, $24.1 million in 2024 and $24.6 million in 2025. His salary through 2022 is guaranteed.

Despite their big-name injuries, the Ravens have flashed one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses, carried by Jackson and a resurgent passing game. The expected return of Boyle and wide receiver Sammy Watkins (thigh), along with the acclimation of first-round pick and wide receiver Rashod Bateman, could lift the attack even higher.

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But the Ravens will be left to push for postseason success without Stanley. In August, he said he felt “blessed” to be back on the field after a “rough” recovery process. “It was hard to think about something that you know you could play [and] do at a high level and then now it’s just, all of a sudden, you can’t do anything,” he said.

Now Stanley and the Ravens will have to start all over again.

Week 7


Sunday, 1 p.m.

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Line: Ravens by 6