Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said he still has no clarity on the future of All-Pro guard Marshal Yanda, and that he figures to have discussions with Yanda “probably in the next month or so” to address the largest question mark lingering over the Ravens’ offense.
Yanda, 35, last spring signed a contract extension through the 2020 season, but he is considering retirement after 13 NFL seasons, which have included eight trips to the Pro Bowl and two First-Team All-Pro awards.
Asked about Yanda at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis Feb. 25, DeCosta said, “We had a great conversation with Marshal at the Pro Bowl. We didn’t talk about the future. I’m sure we’ll have those discussions at some point probably in the next month or so.”
Yanda has not met with the media since the season ended, and after the loss to the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round of the playoffs, he declined to address his future plans.
The Ravens probably would like clarity on Yanda’s future before the NFL Draft in April, but regardless, they need to be preparing for life after Yanda, whether that is in 2020 or beyond.
If Yanda returns, the Ravens will have back virtually every starter from their record-setting offense of 2019. If he doesn’t return, the Ravens suddenly have a glaring hole up front in a system that relies on dominant, consistent offensive line play to establish their running game led by reigning league Most Valuable Player Lamar Jackson.
The most logical in-house replacements for Yanda would be Ben Powers, who played in just one game as a rookie last season; Parker Ehinger, a journeyman who played in two games, and James Hurst, a versatile guard-tackle who has made 44 career starts, including 19 at left guard, but has been suspended for the first four games of the season for a violation of the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
The Ravens could look to the free-agent market for interior line help, and they will almost certainly draft an interior lineman. Complicating matters up front for the Ravens is the injury to starting center Matt Skura. He is still recovering from a major knee injury sustained against the Los Angeles Rams in November, and although he is eyeing a return to action for training camp, that timetable is uncertain.
The Ravens also have another focus with their offensive line, and that’s trying to arrange a contract extension for left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who is set to become a free agent after next season. Stanley, who earned his first Pro Bowl appearance this past year, figures to earn a market-setting deal, but DeCosta has shown that retaining his own players is a priority, and he and Stanley’s agent have reportedly held preliminary discussions about an extension.
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