Outside of the negotiations on a restructure with franchise quarterback Joe Flacco, the biggest issue the Ravens are facing in free agency is whether they could keep Kelechi Osemele, a budding star at left guard who showed ability last season at left tackle too. The Ravens were thought to have little chance to keep him. The team's minimal cap space combined with the rising price to keep the young Osemele was thought to have priced him out of their range.
But per Jamison Hensely, the Ravens are making a concerted effort to keep the young lineman off the free agent market:
The Ravens have not had a stable presence protecting Joe Flacco, as since Jonathan Ogden retired in 2007 the team had Jared Gaither, Eugene Monroe, Michael Oher, Bryant McKinnie, James Hurst, and now Osemele start games on the blind side. None of them looked especially impressive before Osemele, although Gaither and McKinnie both were reliable at the position for spurts before totally flaming out.
The Ravens hope by locking up Osemele, they will have the position locked down for the next 5 to 10 years. If the team becomes unhappy with his performance down the road, they would still have the option of kicking him back inside to guard once they find a replacement.
The corresponding move would be to let Eugene Monroe go, whether by cutting him or trading him. The team would save $2.1 million without Monroe on the books, although if they chose to designate him a post-June 1 cut they could save as much as $6.5 million in 2016. That gives the team another option if they need to clear more money on the books this year to bring back Osemele.
The hope is that the team locks him up quickly, as with the rapidly rising cap the price for a left tackle will continue increasing. With the franchise tag off the table, the Ravens need to move quickly to secure this part of their future. Osemele is important; hopefully the Ravens feel the same way.