Ravens upgrade offensive line with Monroe

October, 1, 2013
10/01/13
11:25
PM ET
The Baltimore Ravens need a tight end. They could use another wide receiver. But, give general manager Ozzie Newsome credit, he knew the Ravens would go nowhere this season without upgrading the offensive line.

The Ravens agreed in principle to trade for Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, league sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. This is the best move the Ravens could have made at this point. And this is the best player they could have acquired for that spot.

[+] EnlargeEugene Monroe
AP Photo/Dave MartinThe Ravens have reportedly acquired offensive tackle Eugene Monroe in a trade with the Jaguars.
Monroe is one of the most underrated left tackles in the NFL, although he hasn't played up to his standards this season. When you play for the lowly Jaguars, it's tough to get recognized. Just ask linebacker Daryl Smith.

Monroe's a quality pass protector and a solid run blocker. While he's not Joe Thomas, the real key here is he's significantly better than Bryant McKinnie, the Ravens' current left tackle.

McKinnie is 34 and has been a headache for the Ravens for the past two seasons, from struggling to keep his weight down to organizing a party bus on his birthday last week. Monroe is eight years younger than McKinnie and is known for his rigorous workouts and eating habits.

I'm not saying McKinnie is the root of all of the problems on the Ravens' offense. That would be narrow-minded. But it became apparent after four games that the Ravens made the wrong decision to re-sign him to a two-year, $6.3 million contract ($2 million signing bonus) just because he played well in four postseason games. So how did the Ravens rectify this? They went out and got the anti-McKinnie in Monroe.

The details of the trade are unknown, but Schefter reported that the Ravens are sending multiple third-day picks for Monroe. That means fourth round or later, which doesn't hurt the Ravens much because they should gain third-day compensatory picks for Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe, Ed Reed and Cary Williams. When you look at the big picture, a good move becomes shrewd.

Some will ask why the Jaguars would trade Monroe if he is so solid. Jacksonville invested the second overall pick on Luke Joeckel in April, and there was no need to keep Monroe when the Jaguars have their left tackle of the future in Joeckel.

How badly did the Ravens want a new left tackle? This is the first time in the Ravens' 18-year existence that Newsome has made a trade during the season. The Ravens understood that they weren't going to the playoffs, much less the Super Bowl with this current offensive line. The Ravens couldn't run the ball, averaging 2.6 yards per attempt (second-worst in the NFL). The Ravens had problems protecting Joe Flacco, allowing him to get hit 12 times in Buffalo on Sunday.

Replacing McKinnie is a good place to turn the offense around. He had trouble driving defenders off the ball and consistently failed to finish his blocks. But the Ravens aren't going to fool themselves by thinking the addition of Monroe solves a floundering offense. The entire offensive line has hurt the Ravens at some point, whether it was poor blocking or multiple penalties.

This is where the trade for Monroe serves an additional purpose. By making such an unexpected -- and unprecedented -- move, the Ravens are putting everyone along that offensive line on notice. It can be the same type of shocking wake-up call from last season, when coach John Harbaugh fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron in December.

The Ravens proved again that they won't sit around and watch their offense underachieve. It's a move the Ravens had to make if they have any hopes of defending their Super Bowl title.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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