So much for Snowpocalypse Part III, huh?
We got about 5-6 inches here in the downtown area, but nothing near the 15 inches I was hearing some project for last night into this morning. Half a foot is still enough to bring this area into a standstill, however. Hope everyone got to work safely this morning.
Anyone else see/hear the lightning and thunder during the storm last night? That was weird, wild stuff.
I'd like to apologize for my lack of posts over the past few days; I had a couple days worth of meetings at MASN this week, and so the writing had to take a bit of a backseat. Hope you can forgive me.
Now that I've got a chance to plop down in front of my laptop and talk some more football, I wanted to take a look at the state of the Ravens' offensive line as we enter the offseason. We know the Ravens plan on keeping Michael Oher at left tackle for now, but there are other issues with the O-line that GM Ozzie Newsome will have to address.
One of them centers around tackle Jared Gaither, who might become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. I say "might" because with the current labor uncertainty, while it appears Gaither will become a UFA, if the 2010 labor rules are carried over to a future collective bargaining agreement, Gaither's four years of service would only make him a restricted free agent. Thus, he would still remain under the Ravens' control.
If Gaither is a restricted free agent, the Ravens would tender him a contract and bring him back. They would lose very little by doing so, and if Gaither is healthy and motivated, he could lock down one of the tackle spots for them.
If Gaither is an unrestricted free agent, however, the chances of him returning are lower (and possibly much lower). Despite the back injury which kept him out for the entire 2010 season, Gaither will likely want a long-term contract and the opportunity to play left tackle. The Ravens might not be able to provide either.
Gaither's poor work ethic is well-documented, and some in the Ravens' organization have grown tired of his act. The Maryland product is very talented, but doesn't have the "anything for the team" type of mentality that head coach John Harbaugh preaches.
It's certainly possible that Gaither returns to Baltimore even if he's an unrestricted free agent. He might not find a team willing to dish out big money for a tackle who missed the entire 2010 season with a back injury, and given their desire to improve the offensive line, the Ravens have said they would welcome him back at the right price.
Then, there's Marshal Yanda, who filled in admirably at right tackle this year with Gaither out. Yanda has played most of his pro career at right guard, and quietly had evolved into one of the league's best at that spot prior to the 2010 season, but when the Ravens asked him to move to tackle, he did so willingly.
Yanda also could be an unrestricted free agent this season, but my understanding is the Ravens would make him a priority should he hit the open market. The organization loves his physicality and willingness to play through pain, and while he was a dependable right tackle this season, they hope to keep him around as their right guard for a while.
"Personally, I like Marshal Yanda at right guard," head coach John Harbaugh said last week. "I think that's his position. He's a dominant puller. He's physical. If you can put a nice, big right tackle next to him, that would really help."
Given his ability to play both guard and tackle, Yanda could draw heavy interest from other teams in free agency, but the Ravens really hope to keep him around. As the Ravens' free agent linemen go, he'll be the top priority, with Gaither and guard/center Chris Chester more on the back-burner.