OWINGS MILLS – Ravens coach John Harbaugh strongly denied that Eugene Monroe’s stance on medical marijuana had any bearing on the team’s decision to cut him on Wednesday afternoon.
Monroe has been a vocal advocate for allowing players to use marijuana for medical reasons.
Asked whether his views on marijuana played a part in him being released Wednesday, Monroe told The New York Times, “I can’t say for sure whether or not my stance on medical cannabis was the reason the Ravens released me. However, as I’ve said in the past, they have distanced themselves from me and made it clear they do not support my advocacy.”
Harbaugh had a different take, saying he respected Monroe, but that his release was a football decision.
Monroe missed 17 of a possible 34 starts over the last two seasons, and the Ravens did not get what they expected after he signed a six-year, $37.5 million contract in 2014.
Had the Ravens not drafted left tackle Ronnie Stanley with the No. 6 overall pick, perhaps Monroe would have gotten another season in Baltimore. But Stanley’s arrival cleared the way for Monroe’s exit, and saved the team $6.5 million in salary cap room this season.
“He’s got a lot of friends here, he’s well thought of here,” Harbaugh said of Monroe.
“Football circumstances change, from the end of the season until now. One hundred percent football circumstances. That’s all it ever was. Everybody here, it’s well documented. It’s no reflection on Eugene Monroe in any way. It just has to do with circumstances with the Ravens and that position."
“He’s going to get picked up, he’s going to play, he’s going to play very well, because he’s an excellent football player. This organization has always been very forward thinking, very open, very in front of all kind of issues - have always allowed their players to speak out, speak their mind, and be who they are. You can go all the way back to Art Modell and Jim Brown. Then bring it on to Steve Bisciotti with Ray Lewis, and Jonathan Ogden, and Ed Reed, and these guys who have been very outspoken. Since I’ve been here, you can look at the Matt Birk and Brendon Ayanbadejo stuff. So we’ve got a really good track record for all that, and I’m proud of that.”
Monroe has vowed to remain a strong advocate for medical marijuana. But regardless of his views, the Ravens’ decision to cut Monroe was hardly a surprise.