Late for Work 6/2: Ronnie Stanley Could Become Highest-Paid Non-QB in NFL

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Ronnie Stanley Could Become Highest-Paid Non-QB in NFL

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley is coming off an All-Pro season as he enters the final year of his rookie contract, so there's no doubt he's going to receive a highly lucrative deal.

However, with Laremy Tunsil setting the market for the position in April by signing a three-year contract extension with the Houston Texans for a reported $22 million per season, not only is Stanley likely to surpass that deal, but he could become the highest-paid non-quarterback in the league.

"Coming off one of the best seasons by a left tackle in recent memory, Stanley could move past Chicago pass-rusher Khalil Mack ($23.5 million per season) and Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald ($22.5 million) to become the richest non-QB in the league," ESPN's Jamison Hensley wrote.

The Ravens undoubtedly would love to sign Stanley, the protector of reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson's blind side, before he becomes a free agent next offseason, but Stanley said he's in no hurry to get a deal done.

"We've been in talks for the last couple of years now," Stanley said in a video call with reporters last week. "I'm comfortable with where we are in that regard. When the time comes, it will come."

Understandably, Stanley said he wants to get paid what he's worth, but he also said money isn't the most important thing to him.

"Being healthy, being a good person, I try to think big picture about things like that," Stanley said. "That's what I mean when I say money's not the most important thing to me. That's not really what drives me. That's not my motivation. Being the best, being the greatest, that's more what's important to me."

That said, The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec cautioned that Stanley's comments should not be misinterpreted as a sign that he will re-sign with the Ravens for less than originally expected.

"Stanley also said that it's important he gets paid his value and what he's worth and felt that Tunsil deserved the amount of money he got," Zrebiec wrote. "Does Stanley think his value is less than Tunsil's? I doubt it."

Hensley noted that "Tunsil allowed three sacks and committed a league-high 17 penalties, including 14 false starts. Stanley didn't give up a sack and was flagged just four times."

Stanley, the No. 6 overall pick in 2016 (seven spots before the Miami Dolphins selected Tunsil), was named Pro Football Focus' 2019 Pass Blocker of the Year and played a pivotal role in the Ravens setting a single-season record for rushing yards.

"Stanley helped Baltimore average 7.2 yards per rush on the left side. In the past 15 years, only the 2018 Carolina Panthers gained more yards per carry on the left side (7.4)," Hensley wrote.

Hensley added that another factor to consider regarding re-signing Stanley is that "cornerback Marlon Humphrey, tight end Mark Andrews and offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. are scheduled to become free agents after the 2021 season and Jackson will likely be seeking a record-setting deal around that time."

Zrebiec wrote that it might make more sense for the Ravens to prioritize getting a deal done with Humphrey.

"Stanley is a superb player and certainly a guy you make every effort to re-sign. And yes, in many cases, the longer you wait, the more expensive a player becomes," Zrebiec wrote. "The market for offensive tackles, though, doesn't figure to move much in the near future. If Stanley goes out and has another dominant year, how much more expensive will he get, especially with the franchise tag potentially coming into play?

"With Humphrey, not only could another strong season increase his asking price and further solidify himself among the best players at his position, but the other top corners around the league getting big deals would impact that as well."

Ravens Who Are Outperforming Their Draft Position

The Ravens have long been recognized for their draft success. As a testament to that, there are 11 players on the current roster outperforming their draft position, wrote Ebony Bird's Chris Schisler's opinion.

At the top of the list is Jackson, who the Ravens selected with the final pick of the first round in 2018. Four quarterbacks were drafted before Jackson, who "is the obvious No. 1-overall pick in a re-draft," NBC Sports Washington's Ethan Cadeaux wrote.

Two Day 2 picks from that draft class who have performed at a higher level than where they were drafted are Brown Jr. (third round, No. 83 overall) and Andrews (third round, No. 86).

"Three tight ends were drafted before Andrews in 2018 and now he is arguably a top three tight end in the NFL," Schisler wrote. "The Ravens benefited from Orlando Brown Jr. failing to capitalize at the NFL Scouting Combine. … He's about as good of a right tackle as there is in the NFL."

The Ravens got Matthew Judon out of Grand Valley State in the fifth round in 2016, but there's no doubt the Pro Bowl outside linebacker is a first-round pick in any re-draft. Starting safety Chuck Clark, who signed a three-year contract extension in February, was a 2017 sixth-round pick. Another sixth-round selection to become a starter is Bradley Bozeman, a 2018 pick.

"What you have to love about Bozeman is twofold," Schisler wrote. "First, he improved rapidly after becoming the starter at the beginning of the 2019 season. Secondly, he is very versatile. He was drafted as a center and started at left guard. He could start at either position in 2020."

Rounding out Schisler's list are five undrafted free agents, headed by Justin Tucker (2012), the most accurate kicker in NFL history. The others are: Pro Bowl fullback/defensive lineman Patrick Ricard (2017); running back Gus Edwards (2018); and offensive linemen Matt Skura (2016) and Patrick Mekari (2019).

Three Candidates to Extend Ravens' Undrafted Free Agents Streak

Speaking of undrafted free agents, the Ravens have had at least one make the roster for 16 consecutive years, the second-longest streak in the league. Who are the top candidates to keep that streak alive?

The Baltimore Sun's Jonas Shaffer reached out to college coaches for their insights on some of Baltimore's higher-profile undrafted rookies.

Two such players are tight ends Jacob Breeland Breeand (Oregon) and Eli Wolf (Georgia). Head Coach John Harbaugh said at least one, and perhaps both, will make the team. Tight ends play an integral role for the Ravens, who have an opening at No. 3 tight end after trading Hayden Hurst to the Atlanta Falcons.

The 6-foot-5, 252 pounds Breeland was on his way to having a huge senior season at Oregon before suffering a season-ending knee injury in October. An adept pass-catcher and run-blocker, Breeland caught 26 passes for 405 yards and six touchdowns in six games before suffering a torn ACL and meniscus.

"Jacob was very, very flexible as far as all the different things we were able to do with him," Oregon Special Teams Coordinator and Tight Ends Coach Bobby Williams said. "We did some in-line blocking. We did some perimeter stuff out there with him in the slot. That allowed him to really, really free up the passing game a little bit, because he was a threat not only as a pass receiver but also as a blocker."

Wolf played as a grad transfer at Georgia last year after spending three seasons at Tennessee. The 6-5, 245-pound Wolf caught 13 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown last season.

"When he catches the ball, he has run-after-catch ability, whether it's making somebody miss or it's dipping his shoulder and kind of running through somebody," Georgia Tight Ends Coach Todd Hartley said. "He does that. He has that area of his game, so you know if you just get it to him, he'll have a chance to turn a first down into an explosive play or even a touchdown just because he has that ability."

Hartley added that Wolf made his greatest strides as a blocker.

Another undrafted rookie to keep an eye on is quarterback Tyler Huntley out of Utah. Huntley, who led his high school team over Jackson's squad for a state championship in Florida in 2014, has a dual-threat skill set that fits the Ravens' offensive scheme. Shaffer, however, believes Huntley "might be at least a year away from challenging for a backup job in Baltimore."

Utah Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach Andy Ludwig said Huntley "was an eraser for us offensively."

"His ability to extend plays and then either reset in the pocket after moving or throw the ball on the run was a complete game-changer for us offensively," Ludwig added.

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