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Monroe will be on the market barring late Ravens rally

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, a Super Bowl winning coach, had a press conference on Wednesday to discuss the team's situation just before the start of free agency. He stressed the Ravens want to keep several of their pending free agents, including offensive tackle Eugene Monroe.

"We want to keep our guys," Harbaugh said. "We want our guys to be here just like Dennis (Pitta). We want to keep those guys."

Harbaugh said the team has offers to its pending free agents and characterized those as "aggressive."

Except ...

The chances of the Ravens keeping Monroe are getting bleak now. According to a league source, Monroe will be testing free agency, barring a significant change in course by the Ravens. The two sides have not been talking every day even as time is growing short for a deal to get done before other teams can enter the picture.

NFL teams can begin negotiating with free agents starting Saturday.

Simply, the Ravens have set a price point for Monroe and that is so far falling short of the expectations Monroe and his representation have for a new contract.

The Ravens and Monroe have not been close to a deal because it's doubtful the team wants to go too far beyond the $8 million per year range. But it would not surprise if Monroe's camp is expecting $10 million per season.

And the Monroe camp may have the upper hand initially because, as I've reported previously, the Dolphins are very, very, very, very, very interested in adding Monroe in free agency. The Dolphins are also very, very, very, very interested in adding Branden Albert. It will be an interesting choice. And the Dolphins have the cap space to meet the $10 million-per-year threshold if they want.

So a five-year deal for $50 million is not out of the question here.

If Monroe hits the market as expected, there will be competition for him. Arizona will be interested, at least initially. The Cardinals expect to land a left tackle in free agency.

Carolina needs a left tackle as well following the retirement of Jordan Gross -- although the Panthers probably don't have the cap space to compete for a $8-10 million-a-year left tackle.

So that all leads to significant questions:

1. Do the Ravens have a trick up their, um, wings? Can they convince Monroe that taking a less money to play with a perennial contender is better than going to a non-playoff team like the Dolphins or Cardinals?

2. Do the Dolphins decide they want Monroe, a solid player and solid citizen (more important to this team than most following the harassment scandal), to the extent they reach the $10 million per year mark for a very good but not great left tackle?

I cannot predict the answer to No. 1. I think everyone knows the answer to No. 2 -- yes.