The Ravens have signed versatile offensive lineman Patrick Mekari to a three-year contract extension running through the 2024 season.
Mekari, 24, was scheduled to be a restricted free agent after this season.
Mekari has been the team's right tackle this season, making 10 starts and fighting through multiple injuries to play at a high level at a position where he didn't have much experience.
The beauty of the move is that Mekari could stay at right tackle for the foreseeable future or line up at any other spot on the line. He's a starter and super sub.
"Pat is an easy decision," General Manager Eric DeCosta stated. "He's tough and gritty, smart, versatile and a five-position player who does everything the right way. Congratulations to Pat and his family, and thank you for playing like a Raven."
Originally signed by the Ravens as a rookie free agent in 2019, Mekari has played in 36 career games and made 23 starts.
In 2019, he started the final five games at center and the divisional playoff game against Tennessee. In 2020, Mekari made three starts at right guard before starting five more at center.
Starting center Bradley Bozeman is a pending unrestricted free agent, so if the two sides cannot reach an agreement, Mekari could step back in at center. Or he could stay at right tackle. The Ravens have Alejandro Villanueva and Ja'Wuan James under contract for next year, plus Tyre Phillips, but Mekari's re-signing makes the right tackle spot less of a question mark heading into the offseason.
Mekari's versatility is just part of what makes him a valuable player. He's also shown his toughness this season, sitting out just two games after a sprained ankle, then only two more games after a hand injury.
According to Pro Football Focus, Mekari is one of the Ravens offense's highest-graded players and the 51st-ranked offensive tackle (left or right) in the NFL. After the team's Week 6 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, Head Coach John Harbaugh spoke highly of how Mekari had taken to playing right tackle.
"I've seen a guy that's just playing the position, really, in all honesty, about as well as you could expect it to be played," Harbaugh said. "I couldn't be more pleased with him – run blocking, pass protection – [and] his versatility, obviously, but he's locked in at right tackle, and I couldn't ask for a better player there right now."
Bozeman raved this season about Mekari's intelligence, which helps the 6-foot-4, 308-pound blocker thrive wherever he lines up.
"Pat's a great player, he's always been a great player," Bozeman said. "Guy knows the gameplan, he knows the playbook. He's one of those computer chips out there, kind of knows everything. Great to have that guy out there. When I'm not for sure, I know he has my back to help me out, get things fixed on the field."