After a difficult start to the season for their offensive line, Baltimore made a trade for offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, and they've landed themselves a bargain.
The Ravens, coming off that stunning Super Bowl run, lost a number of key players, including Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger and Cary Williams, but general manager Ozzie Newsome allowed left tackle Bryant McKinnie to test free agency for over a month before re-signing him.
Yet just four weeks into the season, McKinnie will find himself benched following the trade for Monroe. John Harbaugh's side certainly needed a boost to the offensive line, with the running game ineffectual and quarterback Joe Flacco under pressure.
With a number of compensation picks expected after the loss of so many key players – and little cap room to replace them – the Ravens could afford to give up some draft picks in order to solve their offensive line problems.
With the Jaguars heading for yet another high draft pick, and Luke Joeckel already on board, it made some sense to trade Monroe for fourth and fifth round picks, with the 26 year old set to become a free agent in 2014 and unlikely to re-sign.
The move is perfect for the Ravens, who have toyed with Michael Oher at left tackle with disappointing results. They now have their left tackle of the future, and Monroe has proven during his time in Jacksonville that he is a very solid pass protector, but also offers a punch in the run game too.
34 year old McKinnie is now staring at a future out of the NFL, with weight and other off-field problems causing the Ravens to look for his replacement as they seek to keep their $120m man Flacco on his feet.
The only apparent downside to the Ravens' trade of Monroe is that they will need to discuss a new contract with him in just a matter of months. If Monroe refuses to sign a deal in Baltimore, the Ravens will have given up two valuable draft picks for just two or three months' service, depending on how deep they make it in the playoffs.
GM Newsome, widely regarded as the best general manager in the NFL, has once again worked his magic to land a starting-calibre left tackle during the season for a fraction of his true worth. It's yet another move that suggests the Ravens are looking to retain their Super Bowl title, but also look towards the future of the franchise too.
image: © Maryland National Guard