The status of Baltimore’s left tackle position has been somewhat up in the air this offseason.
Last year’s starter Eugene Monroe is entering just the third year of a five-year contract reportedly worth $37.5 million, but his future has been cast into doubt because of a litany of injuries the last two years.
As speculation swirls around the left tackle position, Owner Steve Bisciotti put his stamp of approval on Monroe as the starter.
“He is our left tackle going into next year,” Bisciotti said. “I think a lot of the speculation about us moving on from him clearly comes down to the fact that he’s been hurt a lot, because he’s played pretty well when he’s been in there. We’ve always been happy with him when he’s on the field.”
Monroe finished last season on injured reserve because of a shoulder issue, and he ended up playing just six games all year. He has dealt with shoulder, knee and ankle issues the last two years and has missed 17 games during that stretch.
Before all the injuries the last two years, Monroe missed just three games in the previous five seasons because of injury.
“Eugene has been a pretty durable player these last couple years,” Bisciotti said. “But nobody works out harder than he does.”
Going into the offseason, the Ravens indicated they may want someone to challenge Monroe for the starting job. The Ravens prefer to have competitions at every position to get the most from their players. They tried to retain Kelechi Osemele as a potential left tackle, but he ended up leaving for Oakland in free agency.
A reporter asked Head Coach John Harbaugh if starting right tackle Rick Wagner could be in the mix on the left side. Reserves James Hurst and De’Ondre Wesley are also still on the roster in case Monroe were to go down with another injury.
“You look at the guys that you got and how you position your line, you get your five best players out there where they can play their best,” Harbaugh said at the AFC coaches breakfast Tuesday. “I don’t have any doubt that all those tackles can play both sides* *… It’s going to be a competition with those guys and whoever else we add.”
Monroe has also made headlines in recent weeks for urging the NFL to soften its stance on marijuana use, and calling for more research into how it could improve the lives of players who suffered concussions.
“Obviously Eugene is a pretty standup, professional guy,” Bisciotti said. “To have an opinion about something like that is partial to being a leader if it matters to him. We’re not the ones taking that physical abuse. We’re not talking about a kid that’s been suspended three times coming out and saying that. I respect Eugene a lot, and I think all he asked for is more studying on the subject.”