Late for Work 3/11: Two Veteran Free Agents Who Could Replace Marshal Yanda

Former Ravens G Kelechi Osemele and Oakland Raiders guard Gabe Jackson line up in a two-point stance during an NFL game.

Who Could Replace Marshal Yanda?

Marshal Yanda is retiring after 13 seasons, and the Ravens are tasked with replacing one the NFL's best interior offensive lineman.

How will they go about filling the void? Of course, there is no true "replacement" but the Ravens are tasked with finding someone.

"Given the Ravens' rather unique offense, losing an elite guard might hurt Baltimore more than it would another team," Yahoo! Sports' Frank Schwab wrote.

It's easier said than done with a player of Yanda's caliber, but the Ravens have been preparing for this possibility since the end of the season.

On Tuesday, two veteran candidates emerged from pundits as potential replacements – Kelechi Osemele and Gabe Jackson.

"[Osemele] is working his way back into full health," NFL Network's Mike Garafolo said. "Wouldn't be surprised if he winds up back [in Baltimore] because I know he does want to continue playing [and] believes he's going to be healthy well in advance of Week 1."

It would be a reunion for both sides. Osemele was a key starter in Baltimore during the first four seasons of his career, helping Baltimore win Super Bowl XLVII as a rookie. He signed a five-year, $60 million contract with the Oakland Raiders in 2016 and went to the Pro Bowl the following two years.

Osemele was traded to the New York Jets last season but played in just three games before a shoulder injury ended his season.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that Jackson has been discussed in trade talks. He's owed $9.6 million by the Las Vegas Raiders this season, a contract that is "very tradeable," according to Rapoport because it wouldn't cost the Raiders any dead money.

"Teams [that] strike out on some of the top-tier guards, or maybe if they don't want to fish in that pool, he would be an intriguing name too," Rapoport said.

"To a team that still uses a power blocking scheme, Jackson would still be a valuable commodity," Raiders Wire's Levi Damien wrote. "He's still just 28 years of age, with three years left on his current contract, which carries no remaining guaranteed money."

Jackson missed five games last season with a sprained MCL, but only allowed five sacks in 707 offensive snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.

Health is a question for both players but adding a veteran would be key since Andre Smith is the only offensive lineman on the roster over the age of 30.

Robert Griffin III Reportedly Discussed in Trade Talks

In yesterday's Late for Work, Hayden Hurst and Matthew Judon were mentioned as potential trade candidates this offseason.

Rapoport reported Tuesday that backup quarterback Robert Griffin III has also been discussed in trade talks.

"This seems like something, for the right price, the Ravens would be open to doing," Rapoport said.

The Ravens signed Griffin to a one-year deal in 2018 and he made the roster as the third quarterback behind Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson. Last season, Griffin signed a two-year deal and served as Jackson's backup.

Griffin carries a cap hit of 2.5 million heading into the final year of his contract, per Spotrac. If the Ravens dealt the 30-year-old quarterback, NBC Sports' Andrew Gillis said it would make sense for both sides.

"Behind the league's reigning MVP and 23-year-old breakout star Lamar Jackson, Griffin's chances to see the field as a full-time starter in a Ravens uniform are, simply, non-existent at this time," Gillis wrote.

Trading Griffin would allow him to compete for a starting job with another team. Netting compensation for a player who was entirely out of football in 2017 would be another impressive move by the Ravens front office.

The Ravens would have to weigh if  the compensation would be worth losing a valuable backup. Griffin's play style mirrors Jackson's to a degree, so you don't have to overhaul the offense for Griffin. He also now has two years of experience in Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman's system.

If Griffin were traded, pundits believe it would signal increased confidence in second-year quarterback Trace McSorley to step in as the backup.

ESPN Ranks Mark Ingram One of the Ravens' Best Free-Agent Signings

It didn't take long for Mark Ingram II to make his impact felt in Baltimore. One season after signing a three-year deal, the veteran running back was named the Ravens' best free-agent signing of the past five years.

"There was a lot of fretting from the fan base when Baltimore signed Ingram instead of Le'Veon Bell," ESPN wrote. "But Ingram became an integral cog and leader for the NFL's highest-scoring offense, leading the way with his physical and explosive running … [H]e ran for 1,018 yards, tied a franchise single-season record with 15 total touchdowns and coined the team's mantra 'Big Truss.' Not bad for someone who wasn't among the 10 highest-paid running backs last season."

Ingram became the first Ravens running back since 2014 to rush for 1,000 yards and he's already looking like a steal given some of the big contracts handed out to running backs. 

Terrell Davis: Frank Gore a Fit in Baltimore

Speaking of veteran running backs who could benefit the Ravens, NFL Network's Terrell Davis thinks Frank Gore is a fit for the Ravens in free agency.

"Number one, his old Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman is there," Davis said. "... And they've got a ton of backs, but they run the ball so much they need that depth right there … Gore is finally going somewhere where he can finally win that Super Bowl."

Garafolo reported that Gore has no plans to retire despite turning 37 this offseason. He's still shown the ability to be productive, rushing for 599 yards and two touchdowns with the Buffalo Bills last season.

Reuniting Gore with Roman in Baltimore would bring familiarity and more depth to the league's top rushing attack. Gore had four straight 1000-yard rushing seasons with Roman as his OC in San Francisco.

Gore signed a one-year, $2 million deal with Buffalo last season. He'd likely come as a cheap option to work behind Ingram and Gus Edwards.

The Ravens, however, may be looking to get younger at the position (even after drafting Justice Hill last year), rather than find a short-term addition.

Quick Hits

  • Yanda has a Canton-worthy resume, but history says getting a gold jacket as a guard is easier said than done.
  • The kings of the comp picks continue their reign.

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