OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Offensive tackle Eugene Monroe doesn't know whether he'll be back with the Baltimore Ravens next season, but he said he does know he played at a high level during an injury-filled 2015 season.
"Looking at my film, I’ve had some time to look at my game and how I’ve improved from the year before, and I’ve made major strides," Monroe said. "I’ve played some pretty good ball, and I’m looking to build off of that.”
Monroe was rated as the 14th-best left tackle in 2015 by Pro Football Focus. The problem: He was rarely on the field.
He only finished three games this season. Monroe suffered a concussion on the opening drive of the season and missed the next three games. He started the next three games but suffered a shoulder injury that sidelined him for three of the next five games. The Ravens placed him on injured reserve on Dec. 12.
Monroe had surgery to repair his labrum and still has his left arm in a sling.
"This is unfortunately the second time I’ve gone through this shoulder deal, so I sort of know what to expect in terms of my rehab process," he said. "But I’m fully confident that I’ll be healthy and back on the field.”
Will Monroe be back on the field for the Ravens? Baltimore has to determine whether Monroe is worth $6.5 million in base salary and an $8.7 million cap number, both of which are the fourth-highest on the Ravens in 2016.
If the Ravens believe that's too high, they can either approach Monroe about a pay cut (which is unlikely, considering he wouldn't restructure his contract) or cut him. If the Ravens release Monroe, they would create $2.1 million in cap room but would have to carry $6.6 million in dead money.
Monroe's $6.5 million base salary is a reasonable price for a starting left tackle. There are 12 left tackles who are scheduled to make more next season. Minnesota's Matt Kalil tops left tackles with an $11 million salary.
Asked how confident he is that he'll be back with the Ravens, Monroe said, “That’s not something I’m concerned with at all. I’m focused on getting healthy and getting back to ball.”
The question is whether the Ravens can trust he'll be able to play. Monroe has missed 16 games (including playoffs) since signing his five-year, $37.5 million contract (with an $11 million signing bonus) before the 2014 season. Based on his $5.5 million salary in 2015, the Ravens paid Monroe $18,092 per snap.
Durability had never been a concern for Monroe when he signed. He had only missed three games to injury from 2009 to 2013. That's what made these last two seasons so uncharacteristic for Monroe, who is known for his work in the weight room.
“Honestly, frustration isn’t going to do me any good," Monroe said. "No one likes to be hurt and not on the field, but it is what it is, and I’ve had some things happen that just were unfortunate. But I’ll make sure I continue to work my ass off and continue to get better."