Some believe the Baltimore Ravens should sign a veteran quarterback once the NFL lockout is lifted and free agency begins, while others say a complementary running back to workhorse Ray Rice is a bigger need.
However, with the issues the Ravens had on their offensive line last season, re-signing fifth-year pro Marshal Yanda should be a priority as well. Yanda will only be a restricted free agent and easier to re-sign if previous free-agent rules are retained somehow. If things change, do will Yanda’s status.
Yanda’s versatility is what makes him so valuable. When Jared Gaither injured his back during training camp last year, Yanda moved out to right offensive tackle with second-year pro Michael Oher switching from the right side to left tackle. And backup Chris Chester took Yanda’s right guard spot.
Yanda had five regular-season starts and two in the post-season at right guard in 2009, so he could be the starter there again or remain at right tackle. It depends on Oher, who had a rough sophomore season on quarterback Joe Flacco’s blind side.
Gaither isn’t expected to return, which puts more pressure on the Ravens to sign Yanda. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh even emphasized during the NFL Combine four months ago that the club should re-sign Yanda.
“That’s going to be a priority for us,” Harbaugh said during that annual event. “I think (Yanda is) a good player, obviously, a very good player. He’s one of my favorite guys. He knows that. As a coach, you want those guys back.”
Other reasons that Gaither might be let go is his poor health status and the opportunity for third-round draft pick Jah Reid to quickly move high up the depth chart. This would make Yanda even more valuable.
And increase the Ravens’ importance to re-sign him.