Eugene Monroe

Monroe, Loadholt Not Interested In Vikings

The Vikings’ offensive line has been ravaged by injuries this season. After losing Matt Kalil and Andre Smith early on, the Vikings lost fill-in Jake Long last week, leaving them with the tackle combo of Jeremiah Sirles and T.J. Clemmings. Out-of-house options are limited now that the trade deadline is over and it doesn’t sound like the Vikings will be able to pull two recent retirees off of the couch, either. Eugene Monroe and Phil Loadholt are not interested in playing for the Vikings or any other team this year, according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today Sports (Twitter links). Eugene Monroe (vertical)

No, I don’t care if it was the Vikings or whoever, I won’t be playing ball again,” Monroe said.

Monroe made headlines this offseason for his vocal pro-marijuana stance. After making the media rounds for his cause, he was released by the Ravens, but the team insisted that he was not cut for his activism. Teams like the Giants, 49ers, and Seahawks came calling for Monroe, but the 6-foot-5, 310-pounder turned down every overture as he feared for his health.

I’m only 29 and I still have the physical ability to play at a very high level, so I know that my decision to retire may be puzzling to some. But I am thinking of my family first right now — and my health and my future,” Monroe wrote in July. “The last 18 years have been full of traumatic injuries to both my head and my body. I’m not complaining, just stating a fact. Has the damage to my brain already been done? Do I have CTE? I hope I don’t, but over 90% of the brains of former NFL players that have been examined showed signs of the disease. I am terrified.”

This spring, the Vikings pushed Loadholt to take a pay cut, but he opted to retire instead. There were conflicting reports as to why the veteran walked away with some saying that he didn’t want to accept a salary reduction and others citing an injury while working out. In any case, Loadholt is apparently comfortable in retirement.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eugene Monroe To Retire

8:11am: Monroe has formally announced his retirement via The Players’ Tribune.

Today, I am making my exit from the game of football. I’m leaving the sport I love — the sport that has consumed my existence for the last 18 years — to start a new life. I’m nervous, but I feel like I’m ready for whatever comes next. I have three beautiful children and an amazing wife, and they will be with me as I take these next steps,” Monroe writes.

Monroe goes on to explain that he is fearful of CTE and the long-term ramifications of playing professional football:

I’m only 29 and I still have the physical ability to play at a very high level, so I know that my decision to retire may be puzzling to some. But I am thinking of my family first right now — and my health and my future. The last 18 years have been full of traumatic injuries to both my head and my body. I’m not complaining, just stating a fact. Has the damage to my brain already been done? Do I have CTE? I hope I don’t, but over 90% of the brains of former NFL players that have been examined showed signs of the disease. I am terrified.

7:42am: Last month, Eugene Monroe became an intriguing late addition to the crop of offensive linemen on the free agent market when he was cut loose by the Ravens. Now, he’s planning to retire, according to Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Eugene Monroe (vertical)

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Monroe, who has 90 starts and 93 appearances under his belt during his seven-year career, recently said that he was taking his time in free agency in order to find the best fit for him and his family.

I don’t feel like I have to jump on one of the first opportunities that come up. I’m just trying to be patient, wait on the right opportunity, and also just decide what’s going to be the best move for my family,” he said. “I have a wife and three children. There’s a lot more at stake than simply just jumping on a deal.”

Soon after the Ravens cut Monroe loose, PFR’s Dallas Robinson ran down a handful of other clubs that could have potentially had interest. Some of those teams – like the Giants, 49ers, and Seahawks – reached out to Monroe’s camp to express interest. In the case of the Giants, Monroe probably would have been asked to switch from left tackle to right tackle. It’s not clear if the 6-foot-5, 310-pounder would have been willing to make that change.

The Jaguars selected Monroe with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2009 draft. Midway through the 2013 season, he was traded to the Ravens in exchange for Baltimore’s fourth- and fifth-round selections. After a solid season, Monroe inked a five-year, $37.5MM with the Ravens that could have taken him through the 2018 season. However, the Ravens cut Monroe loose last month, leaving them with $2.2MM in dead money but also with $6.5MM in cap savings. Some speculated that Monroe’s advocacy for medical marijuana led to his release, but the Ravens have said that the move was strictly a football decision.

Photo courtesy of PFR on Instagram.

Latest On Eugene Monroe

Free agent offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, whom the Ravens released June 15, told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Tuesday that he remains in no hurry to sign anywhere, though he added that his camp has “been in discussions with a few teams.”

Eugene Monroe (vertical)

“I don’t feel like I have to jump on one of the first opportunities that come up. I’m just trying to be patient, wait on the right opportunity, and also just decide what’s going to be the best move for my family,” he said (via Clifton Brown of CSN Mid-Atlantic). “I have a wife and three children. There’s a lot more at stake than simply just jumping on a deal.”

Monroe, who has 90 starts and 93 appearances under his belt during his seven-year career, was somewhat evasive when asked if he’d be willing to switch from left to right tackle for his new employer. The Giants, among the teams interested in adding Monroe, prefer him on the right side.

“I’m waiting on the best situation for me. What that looks like, time will tell,” the 29-year-old stated.

One issue that might have contributed to Monroe’s release from Baltimore and could ostensibly scare away other teams from the 6-foot-5, 310-pounder is his unabashed marijuana advocacy, on which he also spoke Tuesday.

In regards to the Ravens using it as an excuse to move on from Monroe, he said, “My hope is that it does not play a role. I’m not naive to think that it can’t. However, I was told that (the Ravens) made a football decision, so that’s what they did and now I’m a free agent.”

Monroe opined that the NFL should not test players for marijuana and called doing so “archaic,” referring to pot as “medically viable” and “safer than most substances that people consume, whether it’s a pharmaceutical drug that’s synthetic and compounded or if it’s anything else that people are looking (for) for relief.”

It’s unclear whether that viewpoint will damage Monroe’s earning power in a league that does test for marijuana. So far, in addition to the aforementioned Giants, teams linked to Monroe include the Seahawks, 49ers and Panthers, though the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta doesn’t regard the Hawks as a likely fit. After the Ravens gave Monroe the ax, PFR’s Dallas Robinson ran down a handful of other clubs that could vie for the former eighth overall pick’s services.

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Giants Notes: Monroe, Long, Beatty, Boldin

The Giants continue to assess their options among offensive line free agents, and still have interest in Eugene Monroe, per Jordan Raanan of NJ.com. Still, the club isn’t willing to offer Monroe a starting spot at left tackle, where they prefer to keep Ereck Flowers in place. Jake Long could be another target for New York, but sources tell Raanan there were questions about Long’s desire and love for the game in 2015. Former Giant Will Beatty, whom the team released earlier this year, would only return to the club if all his options are exhausted, as his relationship with New York is reportedly strained.

Here’s more on what the Giants could be eyeing as training camp approaches, all courtesy of Raanan…

West Notes: Donald, Seahawks, Monroe, Rams

Agent Todd France believes that Rams lineman Aaron Donald will soon be in line for a monster contract extension a la fellow defensive tackles Fletcher Cox, Ndamukong Suh, and Marcell Dareus (Twitter link via Alex Marvez of SiriusXM). Donald, 25, was named the AP Defensive Rookie of the year in 2014 after a stellar freshman campaign. Last year, he played in all 16 games for the Rams and amped up his overall production, notching 11 sacks and 69 total tackles.

Here’s more from the NFC West:

  • The Seahawks have been linked to free agent tackle Eugene Monroe, but Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times doesn’t see it happening and envisions some other team paying him the ~$5-6MM he’s probably seeking. Some observers feel that the Seahawks could use a boost on the O-Line, but Condotta writes that they are more content with what they have than some may think. As the Seahawks’ page on Roster Resource shows, the Seahawks are currently slated to trot out Garry Gilliam at left tackle, Mark Glowinski at left guard, Justin Britt at center, Germain Ifedi at right guard and J’Marcus Webb at right tackle.
  • Chiefs fifth-round receiver Tyreek Hill has the most unusual contract of any rookie in the 2016 class, Ben Volin of The Boston Globe writes. Hill received the slotted $218K of guaranteed cash, but KC slashed his signing bonus to $70K. In exchange, Hill received guaranteed money in the form of 2017 base salary and offseason roster bonuses and gave him a total of ~$150K in roster bonuses over the length of the deal for staying on the team each year.
  • More from Volin, who writes that other NFL teams can’t be happy with the Rams‘ refusal to include offset language in their rookie contracts. Offset language, of course, prevents a player from collecting on two salaries in the event that he is cut and signed by another squad. In cases where there is offset language, the team only owes the difference between the old and new salary. The Rams and Jaguars, however, are not putting this provision in deals and the Rams specifically are setting a bad precedent for other teams by doing things this way with No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff.

Latest On Eugene Monroe

Since being released by the Ravens last week, offensive tackle Eugene Monroe has been linked to several clubs, including the Giants, Seahawks, and 49ers. Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link) confirms that those teams have indeed expressed interest in Monroe, and adds that the Panthers could be another potential landing spot for the free agent tackle.Eugene Monroe (vertical)

[RELATED: Carolina Panthers depth chart]

If it signed Monroe, Carolina could shift incumbent left tackle Michael Oher to the right side, according to Cole — it should be noted, however, that Cole’s report was published before the Panthers and Oher agreed to a multi-year extension, which could affect any attempts to move Oher to right tackle. From my vantage point, one other possible scenario could entail simply placing Monroe at right tackle, and moving 2015 starter Mike Remmers into a swing tackle role.

Monroe, a career left tackle, might not be open to that move, however, as Cole reports that Monroe is reticent to move to the right side, and in fact rejected offers from the Giants because they necessitated him moving to right tackle. Dan Graziano of ESPN.com disputes that nugget, writing that while Monroe would prefer to stay on the blindside, he would be “willing” to move to right tackle if that’s the only opportunity that presented itself. New York would likely use Monroe on the right side, per Graziano, despite that fact that 2015 rookie Ereck Flowers graded as one of the four worst tackles in the league, according to Pro Football Focus.

[RELATED: New York Giants depth chart]

Monroe doesn’t appear to be rushing into signing any time soon, and reports have indicated that he’ll begin taking visits with prospective employers next week. I recently ran down a list of eight clubs — including several mentioned above — that could have interest in signing Monroe.

Photo courtesy of Pro Football Rumors on Instagram.

Extra Points: Monroe, Arians, Jets, Tebow, Pats

Free agent offensive tackle Eugene Monroe will likely begin visiting prospective employers next week, reports Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). With training camp still a good distance away, Monroe will take his time before signing somewhere, adds Fowler. Since the Ravens released him Wednesday, Monroe has reportedly drawn interest from the Giants, Seahawks and 49ers. In addition to those three clubs, PFR’s Dallas Robinson analyzed five others that could sign the 29-year-old.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians told Andrea Kremer of HBO that he felt “betrayed” when the Steelers let him go after the 2011 season, ending his five-year stint as their offensive coordinator (via Jeremy Cluff of the Arizona Republic). “I had admired Mike Tomlin so much. And I really thought he was a coach who really cared about his people. And for him to do this, well, I felt very disillusioned,” said Arians, who accused Tomlin of reneging on a promise to renew his contract. Arians believes the perception that he was too close with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger – with whom he won a Super Bowl – contributed to his demise in Pittsburgh. The 63-year-old also told Kremer he was “legitimately retired” after his tenure with the Steelers concluded, but Colts head coach Chuck Pagano then hired him as Indianapolis’ O-coordinator. Arians ended up as Indy’s head coach for 12 games, leading the team to a 9-3 record as Pagano battled leukemia. That success paved the way for Arians to land in Arizona, where he has helped the Cardinals to a sterling 34-17 regular-season mark and three straight playoff appearances.
  • With both quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson at loggerheads with the Jets over money, the team is on track to open training camp July 27 in less-than-ideal fashion, writes Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. Cimini doesn’t expect Fitzpatrick – who’s still a free agent – to re-sign with the club by then, while the Jets and Wilkerson are too far apart on his next contract to hammer out a long-term agreement by the July 15 deadline for franchise-tagged players. Wilkerson will lose $900K per week if he holds out into the regular season, notes Cimini, so the likelihood is the Pro Bowler will ultimately sign his $15.7MM franchise tender this summer and play out the year under that.
  • Free agent Tim Tebow could take another crack at making an NFL roster as a quarterback, he told Larry King (via Mark Fischer of the New York Daily News). “You pursue what’s on your heart, you pursue what you’re passionate about and for me in the game of football, is the position of quarterback,” said the 28-year-old. Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, was one of the Eagles’ final cuts last summer. He hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since 2012, when he was a backup signal-caller with the Jets.
  • Longtime front office executive Michael Lombardi is leaving the Patriots, reports Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. No reason has been given for Lombardi’s exit, but the former NFL Network analyst could be headed to HBO to join Bill Simmons’ new venture, according to Reiss. Lombardi, whom the Pats hired in 2013 as an assistant to their coaching staff, was previously the general manager in Cleveland.

East Notes: Jets, Gilmore, Giants, Redskins

Geno Smith is the Jets current starting quarterback, although the team would clearly prefer Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. Second-round pick Christian Hackenberg is the future at the position. So, where does that leave Bryce Petty?

As Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News writes, the team shouldn’t be giving up on the sophomore signal-caller. While the Jets have considered keeping four quarterbacks for 2016, Petty’s roster spot is no guarantee, and the writer doesn’t believe the organization should give up on the project so quickly.

For what it’s worth, Petty is ready for the challenge.

“You like competition,” Petty said. “So it’s one of those deals like, ‘Okay, they did draft a guy. Now it’s my chance to prove that they took the right guy the year before. … They made a good choice when they drafted me.”

Let’s check out some other notes from the NFL’s East divisions…

  • The Jets willingness to play hard ball with Fitzpatrick and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson leads to the perception that the team is “not as committed to winning as they ought to be,” writes Steve Serby of the New York Post. The writer believes the real fear is that this sentiment will leak into the locker room, which could make for a toxic environment.
  • The Bills don’t intend to pay Stephon GilmoreJosh Norman cornerback money,” writes Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News. If the defensive back is seeking a contract that nears Norman’s five-year, $75MM, the team will presumably let Gilmore walk following the season. On the flip side, the Bills may be willing to pay the former first-rounder $12.5MM a year.
  • The Giants are a natural fit for former Ravens offensive lineman Eugene Monroe, writes Jordan Raanan of NJ.com. The team has an obvious hole on the offensive line, and Monroe’s track record proves that the organization shouldn’t be wary of the veteran’s presence.
  • Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan has only held his position for 17 months, but the executive has already done an admirable job of turning around the organization. As Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports writes, the offseason acquisition of Josh Norman was McCloughan’s biggest move yet, and the GM is confident that the signing will ultimately prove to be worth it.

AFC North Notes: Ravens, Bengals, Pouncey

The Ravens‘ decision to cut Eugene Monroe had nothing to do with his position on medical marijuana and was simply a football determination, head coach John Harbaugh told reporters, including Clifton Brown of CSNBaltimore.com (Twitter link). Clearly, that statement has generated a few doubting looks around the NFL, especially because Baltimore made mention of Monroe’s pro-marijuana stance in their press release announcing the move. However, reports did indicate that the Ravens wanted to wait until Monroe was cleared from a health standpoint before releasing him, and that clearance was apparently received this week. Baltimore’s offensive line will feature two new starters in 2016, with rookie Ronnie Stanley taking over at left tackle while John Urschel mans left guard.

Here’s more from the AFC North:

  • Running back Trent Richardson will require arthroscopic knee surgery to repair an existing condition and will miss “some time,” according to Jeff Zriebec of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links), who adds that although the injury isn’t considered severe, it certainly won’t help Richardson’s case as he aims to earn a spot on the Ravens‘ roster. Richardson, who is still only 25 years old, agreed to a one-year contract for the veteran’s minimum earlier this offseason, joining a Baltimore running back corps that already includes Justin Forsett, Javorius Allen, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Terrance West, and rookie Kenneth Dixon. Depending on how long he is sidelined, it’s entirely possible that Richardson won’t ever get a real shot at making the club, and he’s a candidate to be released with an injury settlement.
  • The Bengals have been quite proactive this offseason in terms of extensions, locking up both safety Shawn Williams and running back Giovani Bernard to long-term deals. This isn’t a new phenomenon for the club, leading Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer to examine which Bengal might be the next to land a multi-year pact. Veterans like Andrew Whitworth and Dre Kirkpatrick are unlikely to sign deals — at least before season starts — simply because Cincinnati has so much leverage, having invested draft picks at tackle and cornerback over the past several seasons, leading H-back Ryan Hewitt as perhaps the most plausible candidate to ink an extension. Tight end Tyler Eifert, notably, was left off the list, though he is dealing with an injury, and is controlled through the 2017 season via the fifth-year option.
  • Maurkice Pouncey didn’t play a single snap for the Steelers after breaking his fibula during the club’s third preseason game, but the injury was much more severe than many originally thought. Pouncey underwent six surgical procedures and a skin graft during the course of the 2015 campaign, the veteran center tells Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com, explaining how he went from injured reserve/designated to return to missing the entire season. “It was scary,” Pouncey said. “I don’t want that on my worst enemy.” Pouncey is expected to be fully ready for the season, though Fowler notes that the Pittsburgh staff is pressuring him to take days off out of an abundance of caution.

49ers, Seahawks Have Interest In Eugene Monroe

The 49ers have expressed “preliminary interest” in free agent Eugene Monroe, while the Seahawks have had internal discussions about the veteran offensive tackle, according to Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Seattle had been mentioned as a club that could pursue Monroe, but this is the first time San Francisco has been officially linked to him.Eugene Monroe (vertical)

[San Francisco 49ers Depth Chart]

Neither club is a complete surprise contender for Monroe, as a listed both the Niners and Seahawks as two of eight possible contenders for him shortly before he was released by the Ravens yesterday. As noted in that piece, San Francisco has a gaping hole at right tackle, as it currently projects to rely on the likes of Erik Pears and Trenton Brown opposite Joe Staley. Shifting to the right side isn’t Monroe’s preference, tweets Anderson, but there’s no indication that it would be a deal-breaker.

The Seahawks’ offensive line, meanwhile, gave up the sixth-most sacks in the league in 2015, and like the division-rival Niners, ranked in the bottom three in pass protection according to Football Outsiders’ metrics. Seattle added a few pieces to its front five over the offseason, drafting Germain Ifedi in the first round while signing low-cost options like Bradley Sowell and J’Marcus Webb. Offensive line coach Tom Cable is regarded as something of a wizard who loves projects, but even he wouldn’t turn down a veteran option like Monroe.

[Seattle Seahawks Depth Chart]

San Francisco and Seattle will have competition in their pursuit of Monroe, as the Giants were reportedly discussing a trade for the left tackle before Baltimore cut him loose. New York is still pursuing him in free agency, but Monroe is evidently not in a hurry to find a new home, preferring to assess his options fully before reaching a decision.

Photo courtesy of Pro Football Rumors on Instagram.