Eugene Monroe doesn't want to hear this— but he's not worth franchise tag money as an NFL offensive tackle.
Don't get me wrong— Monroe is serviceable at left tackle for the Ravens. But he's still about one level below the current masters of the position, guys like Joe Thomas of the Browns and Jason Peters of the Eagles.
Those are guys who don't just block, they attack…
As Jamison Hensley reported earlier today for ESPN.com,
The Ravens certainly need a left tackle, and Monroe proved to be an OK blocker on Joe Flacco's blind side. The problem is Monroe wasn't worth the tag. The Ravens would have paid Monroe $11.6 million in 2014, which represents a huge chunk of the team's available salary-cap space.
By not using the tag, the Ravens could easily lose Monroe as an unrestricted free agent to the Miami Dolphins or Arizona Cardinals. But it makes more financial sense to try to sign Monroe to a long-term deal than tag him. I wouldn't rule out Monroe's return. He enjoyed his three months with the Ravens. His wife's family lives in the area.
So, what is Monroe worth? Jamison Hensley says when looking at the average salaries for tackles, a deal that averages between $8 million and $9 million per season seems fair. That's the going rate for Duane Brown, Jake Long and Russell Okung. It would put Monroe in the top 10 for highest paid left tackles.
Maybe I'm being too hard on Monroe. But I also think Jake Long and Russell Okung are overpaid.
Apparently Monroe's agent and the Ravens never got close to a deal, sources told The Baltimore Sun. But it's not hard to figure out a fair offer for Monroe. Last offseason left tackle Jermon Bushrod signed a five-year deal worth about $7.1 million per season with the Chicago Bears and fellow tackle Will Beatty agreed to a five-year deal worth $38.75 million to re-sign with the Giants.
"People like to throw around that word, 'elite,' and he is not in the class," said former Ravens center-guard Wally Williams, the team's first franchise player. "But for a guy who came in after he moved his family and had about one week to learn the playbook, you have to give him credit because he was a very solid player.
"But nobody on that offensive line scared anybody. There was no dominating, physical player that overwhelmed anyone. With a full season to be in the building and to learn the offense I would bring him back, but I'm not giving him a contract in the top tier."
Monroe will do well if Ravens coordinator Gary Kubiak runs the West Coast offense the way he did with the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans. In that offense, linemen don't have to be brutes or maulers, just big and athletic. Linemen don't have to engage as long in pass protections because most of the passes are three-step dropbacks, not five to seven. Receivers run quick routes instead of long ones.
Monroe fits the build. He is 6-feet-5 and weighs 305 pounds. He is athletic and runs extremely well. Last year he was the Ravens' best lineman and graded out high in every game except for the time he went against the Bears' Julius Peppers.
In his five NFL seasons, Monroe has played regularly without missing many snaps for either the Ravens or the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"The Ravens offense doesn't make him a better player, but it takes advantage of his athleticism and skill set," Williams said.
One thing Monroe does have going for him is he is still in the prime of his athletic life at age 27. He may actually have an upside in the right system to get better. Jason Peters just got a huge 5-year deal with the Eagles at the age of 32.
Monroe played at Plainfield High School in Plainfield, New Jersey, where he was teammates with Donald Jones. A two-time first-team all-state lineman, Monroe went the final 25 games of his career without allowing a quarterback sack. After his senior season, Monroe participated in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, and was named a SuperPrep All-American, a Parade All-American, and All-USA by USA Today.
Regarded as a five-star recruit by Rivals.com, Monroe was ranked first among the top offensive tackle prospects in 2005. “[Monroe] has everything: great footwork, balance, excels as both a run and pass blocker and is able to dominate in both the run and pass game. The perfect left tackle for some lucky college,” said Tom Lemming, ESPN recruiting analyst. Monroe chose Virginia over offers from Florida State, Miami (FL), Nebraska, and Oklahoma, among others.
As a junior in 2007, Monroe was honorable mention All-ACC selection after starting 11 games at left tackle, missing two games due to knee injury. He did not allowed a sack during the regular season and had 20 knockdown blocks during the regular season, according to Virginia coaches.
In 2008 Monroe was a Unanimous All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection and was voted the ACC's most outstanding blocker. He started all twelve games at left offensive tackle and registered a school season-record 105 knockdowns, according to the coaching staff and had blocking consistency grade of 88.42%
Monroe was widely believed to be one of the top two offensive tackles available in the 2009 Draft (alongside Jason Smith).Particularly praised for his pass blocking ability, Monroe drew comparisons to Walter Jones. He was selected eighth overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars, a pick that was declared a "steal" by Sports Illustrated's Tony Pauline. Monroe was the third offensive lineman from Virginia selected in the top 15 of an NFL draft in four years, following D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Branden Albert.
Monroe was expected to compete with veteran free-agent acquisition Tra Thomas for the start at left tackle. On August 14, 2009 the Jaguars agreed to a five-year deal with Monroe.
In the 2012 season, Monroe started all 16 games at left tackle for the Jaguars.
On October 1st, 2013, the Jacksonville Jaguars traded Monroe to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for Baltimore's fourth- and fifth-round draft selections in the 2014 NFL Draft. His uniform number changed from 75 to 60 out of respect to Hall of Famer and former offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden.