A day before Jermaine Eluemunor was set to make his final bid for a starting job, the Ravens traded the third-year offensive lineman to the New England Patriots, the team announced Wednesday.
ESPN reported the Ravens received a fourth-round pick from the Patriots for Eluemunor and a sixth-rounder.
The move, which is pending a physical, reshuffles a competition at left guard that Ravens coach John Harbaugh on Tuesday called “still open.” Eluemunor was at one point the favorite to win the job; he played with the first-string line during mandatory minicamp and started at left guard in the Ravens’ first two preseason games.
But his inconsistencies stood out as much as his potential. After Harbaugh warned in early June that Eluemunor would need to reshape his body for training camp, he failed the team’s conditioning test and missed the first day of camp. Eluemunor also missed two practices and last Thursday’s preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles after leaving Monday’s joint practice in Philadelphia early with an undisclosed injury. He returned to practice Sunday.
“I think Jermaine has been a work in progress, and I think he’s grown a bunch since he’s been here," Ravens offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris said Aug. 11. "So we’re just going to continue to coach him and encourage him and see wherever the chips fall.”
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Eluemunor, a 2017 fifth-round pick, played in 17 games and started three for the Ravens over two seasons. He started twice at right guard as a rookie in 2017 after Marshal Yanda went down with a fractured left ankle before ceding the position to Matt Skura. Last season, Eluemunor stood in at left tackle for an injured Ronnie Stanley in Week 9.
With the Ravens’ struggles at left guard last season and Eluemunor’s fit in their running schemes, he was a top candidate to take the job. Two weeks ago, even with his early struggles, he said camp was “going well.”
“It’s just little technique things I want to work on, like dropping my pads, changing up my stance, really coming off the ball and hitting the defender, working on my hands better, and just getting a better feel for it," he said Aug. 12. "But it was a good start.”
With Thursday night’s preseason game against the Washington Redskins, the Ravens have one last chance to evaluate a positional battle that’s seemingly no closer to resolution than it was a month ago. If they’re not satisfied, team officials could also trade for another interior lineman before Saturday’s 4 p.m. deadline for 53-man-roster cuts, or they could pick up one on the waiver wire thereafter.
But the team’s most likely options ― Hurst, Bradley Bozeman, and rookies Ben Powers and Patrick Mekari — are already in Baltimore. All but Mekari have started at least one game at guard this preseason.
“My mind is still open,” Harbaugh said Tuesday. "I’m sure there are people in the building, coaches and such, who have their opinions, but I’m very open right now. It will probably, in all honesty, remain a competition until somebody establishes themselves as the established starter. There’s a difference between being a starter and an established starter.
“That person is going to have to continue to earn that by how they play into the regular season, and I’m quite sure a certain one or more guys will step up. All of those guys are going to be really good players in this league. It’s just a matter of how quickly and what the fit is for us.”