OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The news that the Baltimore Ravens are looking to trade Eugene Monroe will lead many to assume they're wanting to part ways because of the offensive tackle's medical marijuana campaign.
The Ravens predictably never endorsed Monroe's vigorous efforts to get marijuana off the NFL's banned substances list, and Monroe tweeted Friday that the team is distancing itself from him and his cause.
Sure, the fact that Monroe is the only active player speaking out about weed doesn't help his case with Baltimore. But to say it's the primary reason why the Ravens are moving on from him is simply not true.
Here are other factors that played into the decision:
The Ravens couldn't trust Monroe anymore. Baltimore knew it wasn't getting a Pro Bowl player in Monroe when it re-signed him to a five-year, $37.5 million deal in 2014. But the Ravens thought they were getting a reliable blocker to protect Joe Flacco's blind side because Monroe had never missed more than one game in his first five NFL seasons. But Monroe started only 17 games in two seasons since receiving $17.5 million in guaranteed money. He has missed time due to four injuries since the start of the 2014 season: knee (four games), ankle (three), concussion (three) and shoulder (two).
Baltimore wasn't getting value out of Monroe. His base salary of $6.5 million tops the Ravens in 2016. It's hard to justify giving that money to a player who started and finished only three games last season. Monroe played in only 304 snaps in 2015, which means he missed 72 percent of Baltimore's offensive snaps.
The Ravens are committed to Ronnie Stanley at left tackle. Baltimore invested the No. 6 overall pick in Stanley for a reason. Yes, the Ravens talked about the possibility of working Stanley at guard, but everyone knew Stanley was the future at left tackle. With Monroe out this offseason, the Ravens got a chance to see Stanley line up exclusively at left tackle and obviously liked what they saw.
There was some thought that Monroe would stay with the Ravens this season. It was only three months ago when owner Steve Bisciotti announced Monroe was going to be Baltimore's left tackle in 2016.
"I just feel bad," Bisciotti said in March. "I think a lot of the speculation about us moving on from him clearly comes down to the fact that he's been hurt a lot, because he's played pretty well when he's been in there."
It's no longer speculation. In the end, Monroe's fate was sealed when the Ravens made Stanley the first offensive lineman selected in the draft in April.
Why did it take so long to start the process of parting ways? The Ravens had to wait for Monroe to be cleared medically (which happened Wednesday) before they could begin shopping him.
Monroe's strong stance on marijuana certainly didn't endear him to the Ravens.
"I promise you, he does not speak for the organization," coach John Harbaugh once said.
But the biggest reason why Monroe is headed elsewhere is the Ravens found a younger, more durable and more talented alternative at left tackle.