State Of Offensive Line Going Into Free Agency


At this point last year, rebuilding the offensive line was a top priority going into the offseason.

Not this time around.

The offensive line was a strength for the Ravens throughout the 2014 season, and the team will return all five starters in 2015. The men in the trenches will likely be a foundation of the offense going into next season.

Here's a full overview on the state of the offensive line going into free agency next month:

All Five Starters Return, No Big Moves Expected

There isn't much uncertainty about what the starting line will look like next year. Left tackle Eugene Monroe, left guard Kelechi Osemele, center Jeremy Zuttah, right guard Marshal Yanda and right tackle Rick Wagner are all under contract at least through next season. Yanda has established himself as one of the premier guards in the league, and Osemele had a bounceback year after undergoing back surgery in 2013. Wagner also thrived in his first season as a starter. Monroe dealt with some injuries last year, but he's just a year removed from signing a big contract as the franchise left tackle. A year after re-signing Monroe and trading for Zuttah, there likely won't be any big free-agency moves among the starters, unless the Ravens try to extend Yanda's contract and make him a Raven for life.

Bouncing Back From Injuries

The uncertainty with the starting lineup is the health status of the first-team unit. Wagner finished the season on injured reserve with a lisfranc injury suffered in Week 16, and Zuttah reportedly underwent offseason surgery to clean up bone spurs in his hip. Wagner's injury will sideline him for much of the offseason, and he said after the season that his hope is to return by Week 1 next year. Zuttah and Wagner are two important cogs up front, and the hope is to have both of them in the starting lineup by the time the season begins. Monroe missed seven games, including both postseason contests, due to knee and ankle injuries. He was close to being healthy for the divisional round, however, so he should be fine for next year.

Young Players Gained Experience

As the offensive line dealt with injuries over the course of the year, young players were thrust into the lineup. Rookie fifth-round pick John Urschel played at a high level when filling in at both guard spots. Undrafted rookie James Hurst was one of the surprises of the season as the Ravens turned to him to take over the blindside when Monroe went down with injuries. The emergence of Hurst and Urschel give the Ravens quality depth at a spot where it's often needed. Because of the emergence of Urschel, questions from pundits now surround whether the Ravens will want to keep center heading into his fourth season.

Life Without Kubiak

A big question for the offense in general is how it will adjust to life without Gary Kubiak as the offensive coordinator. The Ravens hired former Bears Head Coach Marc Trestman, who has a long track record as an offensive mind, and he plans to continue with the West Coast system that Kubiak installed. Maintaining the same system will keep the Ravens from overhauling an approach that proved successful, especially up front where the offensive line proved well-equipped for the zone blocking scheme.

Any New Pieces?

The Ravens don't have a tremendous need to bring in new offensive lineman through free agency or the draft. In addition to returning all five starters and the four backups who finished last year on the 53-man roster (Hurst, Urschel, Gradkowski and Jensen), the Ravens also had three other young lineman on the practice squad. General Manager Ozzie Newsome is always looking to bolster the roster at every position, but it doesn't look like the Ravens will make any big offensive line signings in the next couple months.

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