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Late For Work 2/18: Eugene Monroe Won't Give Discount, Dennis Pitta Deal Far Off

Posted Feb 18, 2014

Ngata, Ravens unable to reach compromise. No talks with Rice extremely surprising. Suggs' signing a good deal?

Monroe Won’t Give Discount, Pitta Deal Far Off

Terrell Suggs extension? Check.

Next up for new contracts? Eugene Monroe and Dennis Pitta.

But the two veterans may not be as willing as Sizzle to negotiate a cap-friendly deal.

Monroe said he won’t give the Ravens a “discount,” and Pitta and the Ravens are still “far apart” in negotiations.

Let’s start with Monroe …

Monroe: You Don’t Give Discount Performances

Fresh in the 26-year-old’s memory is his unexpected trade by the Jaguars after just four weeks of the season. This came even after talks led him to believe that he was “the guy” in Jacksonville.

He knows better than anyone that the NFL is a business, words mean very little and what matters most is “how the paperwork comes out.”

“I read something online and I believe Michael Bennett of the Seahawks was interviewed and he said, ‘There’s no such thing as a discount. You don’t give discount performances,’” Monroe told Glenn Clark of WNST.

“Everyone in the business should understand – even coaches when they’re going through their deals negotiating contracts – you have to get the absolute best because you put forth your best effort all the time, every single day in this league. So there are definitely no discounts, and you have to have you and your family’s best interests at heart in terms of negotiating these deals.”

Even though he might not come cheap, Monroe did give the impression that there’s a chance he doesn’t even hit the open market, depending on how the next few weeks play out with the Ravens. He said he would “possibly” be a free agent, indicating a deal could be done before the March deadline.

The six-year veteran said he still works out every day at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills.

“I’m a Raven. So I go there. I still have access to the facility, which is great,” Monroe said. “Everything I need in order to get more work done is right there. So that makes it easy. I go in every day.”

While he chats with coaches and General Manager Ozzie Newsome while in the building, he doesn’t talk with Ravens brass about negotiations. He leaves that up to his agent, who is actively working on a potential contract.

Per The Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson, the Ravens have made Monroe a negotiating priority. They want to get a long-term deal after they traded fourth- and fifth-round picks for him in October.

The Ravens will not use the franchise tag on Monroe, per Wilson, because the $11 million salary that comes with it would be too expensive.

“If the Ravens are able to strike a deal with Monroe, then they aren’t expected to try to keep free agent right tackle Michael Oher,” Wilson wrote.

Pitta May Be Tagged If Financial Gap Isn’t Bridged

Meanwhile, the Ravens are also in active talks with Pitta, but the two sides are “far apart,” according to Wilson.

“Unless that financial gap is bridged during a two-week window to use the franchise tag that began Monday and ends with an NFL deadline of March 3, a source predicted that the Ravens will designate Pitta as their franchise player,” Wilson wrote.

Tagging Pitta could get complicated.

If he is tagged, Wilson’s source predicted the 28-year-old tight end would file a grievance through the NFL Players Association to be designated as a wide receiver ($11.5 million franchise tag) instead of a tight end ($6.709 million tag).  He could argue he lined up in the slot on 79.7 percent of his routes last season.

If Pitta doesn’t agree to a deal or isn’t tagged, ESPN’s Jamison Hensley believes he could command a contract worth $4 to $5 million per season on the open market.

“The uncertainty of how much it would wind up costing to retain Pitta as a franchise player is an issue for the team,” wrote Wilson.

The Ravens have until March 3 to decide.

Ngata, Ravens Unable To Reach Compromise

With Haloti Ngata reportedly scheduled to make a $16 million salary cap dent in 2014 – the most of any Ravens player – the team reached out to the defensive tackle to try to lower his number.

They were unsuccessful.

“[The Ravens] were unable to reach a ‘realistic’ financial compromise,” according to Wilson.

Ngata doesn’t have the same urgency as Suggs did to work out an extension. Releasing Suggs was a more realistic option, but cutting Ngata would reportedly create $15 million in dead money.

“Cutting Ngata isn’t being considered,” Wilson wrote.

What’s Going On With Ray Rice?

Hensley reviewed the year running back Ray Rice had.

He had the worst season of his career on the field in 2014, he was accused of spitting on Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Phil Taylor, he was back and forth on how much his hip injury affected him and now the arrest Friday night after an altercation involving his fiancée at an Atlantic City casino.

All of this comes after three Pro Bowl selections, and a long-standing reputation as a high-character player.

So Hensley wants to know: What’s going on with Rice?

“That is what every member in the Baltimore Ravens organization has to be asking,” Hensley wrote. “This is the most important offseason of Rice's NFL career, and he's making headlines for all of the wrong reasons. …

“Rice is definitely on the team for the 2014 season because the Ravens don't clear any salary-cap room even if they did release him (and no team official has insinuated this). What Rice is playing for is his $3 million salary in the final two years of his deal (2015 and 2016). If he struggles again this season, the Ravens can make Rice a June 1 cut and gain $3 million of cap space in 2015.”

No Talks Yet Between Rice, Newsome ‘Extremely Surprising’

About 60 hours after Rice was arrested, he still hadn’t talked with Newsome.

That’s what the general manager explained to the press yesterday, and The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec found that to be “extremely surprising,” especially considering their strong relationship.

“I’m not trying to pile on Rice,” Zrebiec wrote. “I’m also not assessing blame. It’s entirely possible that Rice had tried to contact Newsome and/or Harbaugh and the parties were playing phone tag although Newsome didn’t indicate that was the case.”

He added: “You would also think that Newsome would have been one of Rice’s first calls after the arrest. That they hadn’t spoken as of yesterday spurs even more questions. That being said, I firmly believe Newsome when he says that Rice, as things stood yesterday, remains a big part of the Ravens’ plans for the 2014 season. Of course, the key words in that sentence were ‘as things stood.’”

Quick Hits

  • Rice's image could be tarnished by the assault charge. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Former Ravens Jamal Lewis and Matt Stover say the Ravens excel in crisis management. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Monroe was asked if there were “too many cooks in the kitchen” with Juan Castillo, who had the title of run game coordinator last season, and Andy Moeller, the former offensive line coach. Monroe said: “My take on that is the people who weren’t involved with the organization on a daily basis had a different idea based on the title of people’s position. Juan Castillo was the o-line coach, and Andy Moeller was an o-line coach. They both were there, they both worked together. Throughout our practices and our individual drills, we would work with both guys on the same thing. They were teaching the same message. Everything worked out well in terms of that. But I’ve heard and been asked about that a lot, and I really didn’t sense any turmoil or anything from that.” [WNST]
  • Is Suggs a Raven for life? Hensley says that is not a guarantee. [ESPN]
  • “[The Suggs deal] was a gamble – a relatively minor one – that the Ravens had to take,” wrote Matt Vensel. “Good luck signing a comparable pass rusher for $16 million guaranteed over four years. And the Ravens have covered themselves in the event they were wrong about Suggs still having plenty to give. According to my colleague Aaron Wilson, Suggs will carry a salary cap figure below $7 million in each of the four years covered by the extension. Newsome said that the deal is structured so that it won’t kill the team should something happen with Suggs.” [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Is the Suggs’ signing a good deal? Both Takeo Spikes and Jamie Dukes say it was great move for both sides in the video below. [NFL Network]

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