Ronnie Stanley is less than a year away from adding a few more numbers to his contract. As to what day that will be, however, is yet to be determined.
Stanley, the Ravens’ left tackle, is entering the fifth-year of his rookie contract at the best possible time for himself. He was an All-Pro and Pro Bowler in 2019, both the first selections of his career. He anchored the league’s best rushing attack and was widely regarded as one of, if not the best, pass blockers in the game.
Now, it’s time for the Ravens to pay up. And by every indication, it won’t be cheap. But Stanley isn’t in a hurry to get his contract done just yet.
“Honestly right now, I’m not really thinking about it,” Stanley said. “I’m kind of in no rush when it comes to that right now. I’m not really worried about it, per se. That’s just kind of my mentality toward it, at the moment.”
The sixth-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Stanley has slowly transformed himself into one of the game’s best offensive linemen at one of the most premier positions in the sport. That position pays handsomely, too.
Laremy Tunsil, who was selected seven picks after Stanley in 2016, recently signed a contract extension with the Texans after being traded from the Dolphins at the outset of the 2019 season. The deal is for three years and worth $66 million with $40 million guaranteed at signing. After his fifth-year option expires in 2020, he will receive base salaries of: $16.15 million, $17.85 million and $18.5 million. His cap hit will account for nine percent, 9.3 percent, and nine percent in his three years on the Texans.
Those numbers were music to Stanley and his agent’s ears.
“My first reaction was I was just super happy that he got what he got, first of all,” Stanley said. “I was happy because he deserved it. This position is definitely one of the top two, three hardest positions on the field. For him to get respected like that, with how much he got paid, made me feel very happy for him because he deserved it.”
The next three highest-paid tackles, Anthony Castonzo, Taylor Lewan and Nate Solder, all average more than $15 million per season. Stanley is sure to eclipse those numbers when his deal comes around.
With the Ravens due up for contracts in the next few seasons for Stanley, Marlon Humphrey, Mark Andrews, Orlando Brown Jr. and eventually Lamar Jackson, how big of a contract Stanley receives could influence other negotiations.
What Stanley has over all of those players, however, is that he might be the best player at his position across the entire league.
“I definitely want to get paid my value and what I’m worth, or what I feel I’m worth,” Stanley said. “That part of it is important. But at the end of the day, I don’t think money is the most important thing to me.”
Stanley’s contract, while expected to come with a hefty price tag, will come with more off-the-field responsibilities.
He’s now the unquestioned leader of the offensive line after the retirement of Marshal Yanda, leaving Stanley, just 26-years-old, as the eldest member of the line with significant starting experience in the purple and black. Now, more than ever, he’ll be looked at as a voice of veteran leadership in the offensive line room.
With the NFL’s offseason in flux, and no set return date for the NFL, the Ravens — who might have two starters on the line who weren’t on the Ravens last season — minimizing the learning curve will be crucial to start the season. Unfortunately for offensive linemen, there’s no real equivalent to what the skill position players can do together.
“Super difficult to do that as an offensive line without being together,” Stanley said. “I really want to bring everyone together, but I know it’s pretty much impossible right now with the rona [coronavirus] and everything going on. Definitely in the future, that’s something I’d want to do. Bring us all together and do drills, work on things. It’s just really hard to get those type of things without really being physically there to really correct the technique and the little things. That’s what really matters.”
Whenever the Ravens’ offensive line is able to get together, though, they might be joined by one of the newly highest-paid players in the sport to protect Jackson’s blindside.
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