Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh stood at a podium Sunday after his team fell to the rival Pittsburgh Steelers and conveyed his disappointment. The loss moved the Ravens to 5-2, now two wins behind the undefeated Steelers (7-0) for the AFC North lead.
But the bigger loss came in Harbaugh's next statement: All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley was done for the season.
Stanley, who had just two days ago inked a $98 million contract extension to remain in Baltimore for five years, is critical to the Ravens' success. Once led by guard Marshall Yanda, the Ravens' offensive line was one of the few question marks surrounding the AFC North team heading into 2020. While other issues emerged during the first few weeks of the season, the offensive line questions lingered as well.
Now, with one of the few consistent producers in Stanley carted off the field and out for the year, there are few options to save Baltimore's O-line.
How can the Baltimore Ravens replace what they were getting from Stanley?
NFL Trade Rumors: In-house options for the Baltimore Ravens to replace Ronnie Stanley
When Stanley left the game Sunday, D.J. Fluker slotted into right tackle, and starting RT Orlando Brown Jr. shifted over to the left side. Running some sort of combination of Fluker and Brown at the tackles seems like the most likely option for Harbaugh's squad.
Fluker's Pro Football Focus grade is more than 20 points lower than Stanley's, but he is the most experienced and stable option on the roster to fill the void. What is yet to be decided is if Brown will move over to the left side long-term, or if the Ravens want to continue his development at right tackle and will move Fluker over to the left.
With injury issues plaguing the Baltimore Ravens' offensive line seemingly every week (Tyre Phillips also left Sunday's game with an injury), pushing Fluker into the starting lineup will compromise Baltimore's depth, leaving the trade market as an option as well.
NFL Trade Rumors: Trade options for the Baltimore Ravens to replace Ronnie Stanley
The Baltimore Ravens have recently proven they can make a deal with the Minnesota Vikings -- acquiring Pro Bowl defensive end Yannick Ngakoue from Minnesota -- and the Vikings happen to be home to one of the best (and only) tackles available for trade heading into Tuesday's deadline: Riley Reiff.
Though Reiff would largely replace Stanley's production, he is signed to a long-term contract, which does not make sense for the Baltimore Ravens given they recently extended Stanley.
It is more likely Baltimore shops for cheap, short-term replacements like the New York Jets' George Fant. Fant has allowed only one sack this season, and grades out better at tackle than Fluker. Given the Jets winless start to the 2020 season, they will likely be trying to sell off any and all players of value.
If the Baltimore Ravens do decide to push Fluker into the starting lineup, they could still be in the market for depth options like Minnesota's Pat Elflein.
Elfein, a guard, has a low cap-hit, and could step into the rotation lineman role that Fluker manned for the first half of the season, and would likely cost less than more established options.
In all likelihood, the Ravens sit pat. They acquired — via draft and free agency — considerable offensive line depth coming into the season and now it is being tested. Losing your All-Pro left tackle is a devastating blow for any playoff contender, so wasting assets trying to replace that production is often a lost cause.Published 02 Nov 2020, 12:05 IST