Ravens Ronnie Stanley could become the highest paid non quarterback in the league
Baltimore Ravens’ left tackle Ronnie Stanley established himself as one of if not the best player in the league at his position in 2019. He’s coming off a breakout season where he earned his first Pro Bowl nod and first-team All-Pro honors. Stanley is entering the final year of his rookie contract since the team exercised his fifth-year option and is due for a very sizable payday in the very near future.
After producing one of the best seasons by an offensive tackle in recorded history, ESPN’s Jamison Hensley believes that he has the potential to become the highest-paid non-quarterback in the league.
“Coming off one of the best seasons by a left tackle in recent memory, Stanley could move past Chicago pass-rusher Khalil Mack ($23.5 million per season) and Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald ($22.5 million) to become the richest non-QB in the league,” ESPN’s Jamison Hensley wrote.
The highest-paid left tackle in the league is Laremy Tunsil who signed a three-year extension worth $66 million with the Houston Texans that averages $22 million per year. The mega-deal blew the top of the market for the previous highest-paid players at the position that were averaging just north of $16 million a year.
Stanley has a strong case to be made that he deserves and even sweeter deal than one his fellow former 2016 first rounder received. Hensley made not of the fact that Tunsil allowed three sacks and committed a league-high 17 penalties, including 14 false starts in 2019 while Stanley didn’t allow a single sack and was flagged just four times on the year.
“I felt in my heart of hearts this position is one of the top two, three hardest on the field,” Stanley said last Thursday during a conference call, via ESPN. “For [Tunsil] to get respect like that with how much he got paid made me feel very happy for him because he deserved it.”
“I definitely want to get paid my value and 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.”
He’s been a powerful presence and the model of consistency on the left side of Baltimore’s offensive line since being selected sixth overall pick in 2016 out of the Notre Dame but last season the former Golden Domer took his game to an elite level.
Measuring the performance for elite offensive linemen doesn’t produce the most glamorous or eye-popping stats and can be hard to keep up with but that didn’t stop Stanley from putting together one of the greatest seasons by a left tackle in league history. He was the best player at the left tackle position in the league according to Pro Football Focus, earning their top grade at the position in the process.
Running behind Stanley produces chunks plays for the Ravens who average 7.2 yards per rush on the left side. Only the 2018 Carolina Panthers gained more yards per carry on the left side (7.4) in the last 15 years. As much of a mauler as he was for their record-breaking rushing attack in 2019, he was even more dominant as a pass blocker.
Thanks to him, reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson was able to make a night and day transformation as a passer from his rookie year to his sensational sophomore campaign where he led the league in passing touchdowns and the Ravens produced one of the most proficient passing attacks despite being near the bottom of the league in passing attempts. His win rate of 98.7 in the passing game earned him PFF’s Pass Blocker of the Year.
Left tackles are routinely left on an island where they are often engaged in one on one battles without much or any help yet in 16 starts, Stanley allowed a league-low six pressures last season. The second-lowest was nearly triple his total at 17, per PFF. His 93.7 pass-blocking grade in 2019 was one of the five best ever recorded. Three of the remaining four spots on the list belong to franchise legend and first-ever draft selection Johnathan Ogden who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013.
Last season Stanley became the first Ravens’ offensive tackle, left or right since Odgen in 2003 to be voted first-team All-Pro. If he continues to consistently perform at a high level, he could join Ogden among the most elite to ever play the game when his playing career is over. A franchise left tackle can be just as hard to find and develop and be as just as valuable as a franchise quarterback so when a team has a truly great one, he’ll be worth paying top dollar.
Both the Ravens and Stanley desire to work out a long-term extension that will keep him in Baltimore for many years to come but topping Tunsil’s $22 million a year average and certainly making him the highest compensated non-quarterback in the league would be a tough pill to swallow and eat up a considerable amount of precious cap space.
The team is also currently in negations with franchise-tagged outside linebacker Matthew Judon and All-Pro corner Marlon Humphrey, as well as the reigning league MVP, will need new deals in the not too distant future. There’s little to no doubt that Stanley’s new deal will come with a hefty price tag and while he doesn’t seem like kind of player that is obsessed with being the highest-paid and potentially handicapping his team financially in the process, it doesn’t mean he’ll be willing to accept less than he is worth either so don’t expect any hometown discount.
“Being healthy, being a good person, I try to think big picture about things like that,” Stanley said. “That’s what I mean when I say money’s not the most important thing to me. That’s not really what drives me. That’s not my motivation. Being the best, being the greatest, that’s more what’s important to me.”
The Ravens have been in contract talks with Stanley and his representatives for years and are fully committed to working at a long-term contract, but there seems to be no rush because all parties involved are confident that a deal will get done.
“We’ve been in talks for the last couple of years now,” Stanley said during a video conference via the official team website. “I’m comfortable with where we are in that regard. When the time comes, it will come.”