Ravens should commit to Monroe, not Oher

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Bryant McKinnie isn't the only tackle who could be the odd man out on the Baltimore Ravens. The addition of Eugene Monroe likely affects Michael Oher too.

Monroe and Oher will be free agents at the end of the season. Given the Ravens' lack of salary-cap room in 2014 -- they're only under $1 million if the cap remains flat -- Baltimore probably can't keep both.

Who deserves a long-term deal from the Ravens? It's a little early to say for sure because Monroe hasn't played one snap for the Ravens. But if Monroe plays up to expectations, there is really no decision.

It comes down to the fact that Monroe plays left tackle. When you sign Joe Flacco to a $120.6 million contract, you'd better have a left tackle like Monroe whose strength is pass blocking. Even though Oher's life story inspired the movie "The Blind Side," he has shown over the years that he is a below-average left tackle.

The Ravens don't have to address this now, but it's become a topic after Monroe expressed interest in staying in Baltimore for a while.

“It doesn’t look like they brought me here the way they did to not have me here for the long term,” Monroe said. “I have to do my thing on the field, prove that I deserve this opportunity, which I’m fully confident I will.”

Monroe has never been a Pro Bowl tackle, but he's a quality one. The Ravens know from experience that they have to keep someone who can solidify the most important position on the offensive line.

Baltimore had a Hall of Fame left tackle in Jonathan Ogden for the first 12 years of the Ravens' existence. Since then, over the past five-plus seasons, the Ravens have started four players at left tackle (Jared Gaither, Adam Terry, Oher and McKinnie).

Of course, the Ravens can make a better assessment after Monroe's three-month audition. This is one of many big decisions facing the Ravens this offseason. The Ravens have seven starters who are scheduled to become free agents: Monroe, Oher, tight end Dennis Pitta, inside linebacker Daryl Smith, safety James Ihedigbo, wide receiver Jacoby Jones and defensive lineman Arthur Jones.