Kelechi Osemele: Can Ravens Live Without Him?


One of the major storylines for the Baltimore Ravens this offseason in the future of Kelechi Osemele. Osemele is a high-priced unrestricted free agent. Can the Ravens live without him?

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The Ravens may not have much of a choice. They can’t place the franchise tag on Osemele. They simply cannot afford this option. The Ravens have been in talks with Osemele, they clearly want to retain his services. The Ravens though must prepare for the possibility of losing him.

Osemele would be replaced by John Urschel. Urschel is a capable guard. He has the strength and athletic ability to do the job. The Ravens drafted Urschel in the 5th round, knowing that he may be put in the position of replacing Osemele. Though we haven’t seen him as a full time starter, there is plenty of reason to be excited about Urschel’s potential.

If Urschel takes the starting role, he would be the second fifth round pick on the Ravens offensive line. Rick Wagner was drafted in the fifth round in 2013 and is now the starting right tackle. During the season the Ravens worked out a new contract for right guard, Marshall Yanda. Noting Newsome’s tendency to come up with long-term plans that end up working out maybe Osemele leaving was a planned contingency after all.

Think about it. The Ravens seem to have high regard for Urschel. The Ravens have already invested a lot of money in the guard position. Most teams in the NFL don’t have one guard as good as Osemele and Yanda. Having two dominant guards is a luxury most teams cannot afford. The Ravens have faced this problem before.

After the 2011 season the Ravens had to decide whether they would keep Yanda or Ben Grubbs. Grubbs and Yanda were both drafted by Baltimore in the 2007 NFL Draft. The Ravens ultimately retained Yanda and watched Grubbs go to the New Orleans Saints. The Ravens replaced Grubbs with Osemele, who they drafted in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

Once again the Ravens chose (or at least prioritized) keeping Yanda. Yanda’s new contract should insure that he retires with the team he has played with his entire career. Yanda is still one of the most talented offensive linemen in the league. He is a solid pass protector and nobody moves better in the run blocking game than Yanda. The Ravens obviously value Yanda an awful lot as this is twice they have favored him over another player.

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The Ravens don’t have a lot of cap space and they have many needs. Not re-signing Osemele would allow them a little more flexibility in free agency. The Ravens will work on bringing the former Iowa State player back but the world won’t end if he doesn’t come back. Eugene Monroe will be the left tackle of this team in all likelihood. The Ravens should bring in a cheap but capable back up to Monroe. If they do this the offensive line will look solid even without Osemele.