Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Jared Gaither v. Michael Oher: Ravens LT of the Future

There is very little buzz coming from the Ravens these days because of it Jared Gaither’s future in Baltimore is being beating like a dead horse. It is all speculation at this point. I don’t believe Jared Gaither isn’t going anywhere. So, let’s explore some of the reasons people seem to think the Ravens want to get rid of Gaither, RIGHT NOW.

1) Michael Oher is the LT of the Ravens future: Whatever! Just because Ogden came out said he thinks that’s what is going to happen doesn’t mean TPTB think the same way. If I can recall, Ozzie Newsome once said he thought Gaither was a better “prospect” than Ogden was coming out of college. Do you think Ogden and Ozzie agreed on that? Not a chance. Another thing is that the Ravens brass have given no indication that they are planning to move Oher to LT in the future. When they make plans to move a player to a certain position, they generally indicate that they plan to right away. (ie. Suggs and JJ to LB, Kruger to DE). All those guys played other positions coming in but it was known when they were drafted where they were expected to end up. Oher was drafted as a RT to play RT, not to convert to LT.

2) The Ravens don’t want to pay two guys LT money: This one of course is contingent on whether you believe Oher is the LT of the future for the Ravens, I don’t but for arguments sake we will say he is. They still don’t have to trade Gaither, RIGHT NOW to save that money. Oher has 4 years left on his rookie contract and given Ozzie Newsome’s history, he WILL play 4 years before he gets a contract that pays him LT money. The Ravens can avoid paying two guys LT money by: a) signing Gaither to a 4 year contract. Let Gaither be LT and Oher the RT for now. Allow the deals to expire at the same time and then make the final decision. They can also give Gaither a 3 year deal and decide his fate a year earlier than Oher’s. b) they could structure Gaither’s 5 or 6 year deal, so that its front loaded and cap friendly in the later stages of it. Somewhat like they did Suggs recent deal. That way when Oher gets his LT money, Gaither’s salary and cap numbers are not elite LT money anymore.

3) Michael Oher is a better LT than Gaither: This one blows my mind. Gaither is by far the better player at this point and in my opinion he’s got much more potential to become an elite LT than Oher does. Oher’s performance at LT was admirable for a rookie but Ravens fans need to stop kidding themselves, he was a serious down grade at LT. The Ravens were 2-4 with Oher playing LT, the two wins came against the Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions. They were 7-3 with Gaither at LT. The disparity in the win/loss column when Gaither is playing vs when he is not playing is too vast to ignore.

4) Jared Gaither’s work ethic isn’t that good: In my opinion this is the only valid reason for why the Ravens would be hesistant to commit to Gaither long term. They don’t trust him to continue to working hard after he gets his big pay day. If that truly is the case, not many other teams are going to trust him enough to take that risk either. In fact, you could count on one hand how many teams would they are : The Oakland Raiders, The Washington Redskins, Al Davis Raiders, the Raiders and finally the Raiders. Having traded for McNabb recently you can take the Redskins off that list. My point is the Ravens are not going to get the compensation they are looking for in a trade for Gaither if there are character concerns. And Gaither to this point has been a very good starting LT, you don’t give guys like him, work ethic issues and all, away for pennies.

In short, I don’t think Gaither’s future is in any way tied to that of Michael Oher. Oher was drafted to play RT and I believe the Ravens will stick to that. If Gaither is traded somewhere down the line, the Ravens will look to the draft to sign another LT. Not every tackle drafted in the first round is meant to be the teams LT of the future. If a guy is an elite RT and a slightly above average LT, he needs to play the position where he is elite. That’s how the situation with Oher will play out. Look no further than the guy he replaced, Willie Anderson, as the prime example of this. I am sure if absolutely necessary Anderson could have filled in admirably at LT in his younger years but he was an elite RT, which is why he stayed there his entire career.

But this is just one football fans opinion.

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