Ravens Will Closely Monitor O-Line Dynamic

Todd Karpovich

The Ravens offensive line was among the best in the NFL last season, paving the way for a record-setting running attack.

While Baltimore would like to keep that unit mostly intact, there is some uncertainty that might affect the offseason because of a pending retirement, suspension and an injury.

Right guard Marshal Yanda is still playing at a high level after 13 years in Baltimore. He made the Pro Bowl for the eighth time in the past nine seasons, but is considering retirement, which would leave a huge void on the offensive line.

Yanda, 35, is not only a dominant player, he plays a huge leadership role in the locker room. Ravens coach John Harbaugh is hopeful Yanda will play out the final year of his contract.

"When you’re a Hall of Fame-type of guy and you’re a lineman, it’s really important to finish strong in your career, to play Hall of Fame football at the end, because that’s when everybody is watching," Harbaugh said. "So, I’m all for him playing Hall of Fame football for another year if he so chooses, and I did tell him that. I let him know that, and we had a good hug and stuff. But he’ll do what’s right for his family, and whatever he does, we’ll respect it. I just couldn’t say enough good things, great things, about Marshal Yanda and his family.” 

Adding to the uncertainty, the versatile James Hurst was suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2020 regular season for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Hurst is eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games. He will be allowed to return to his team’s active roster on the Monday following the team’s fourth game.

There is some speculation that Hurst could become a salary-cap casualty this offseason because the team could save $2.75 million by releasing him. However, his versatility makes him a valuable part of the roster.

Hurst, who signed with the Ravens as a rookie free agent in May 2014, has started 19 games at left guard, 16 at left tackle, seven at right tackle and two as a tight end in “jumbo formations" over his career. He re-signed with the Ravens as a restricted free agent on April 19, 2017.

Finally, center Matt Skura was placed on injured reserve after suffering a knee injury against the Los Angeles Rams on Nov. 25. He might not be ready for this year's training camp. 

Skura, signed as a rookie free agent in 2016, was having his finest season before the injury and was ranked as the 22nd best center in pass blocking (63.9), according to Pro Football Focus. Skura also had started 29 consecutive games and was No. 2 in Pro Bowl voting.

Patrick Mekari, undrafted rookie from California, replaced Skura and was mostly solid for the rest of the year as the starter. While the Ravens are comfortable with Mekari, they might want to add depth at center while Skura is on the mend.  Bradley Bozeman is also capable of playing center, but he has thrived at left guard.