The Baltimore Ravens announced they've agreed on a multi-year contract extension with versatile offensive lineman Patrick Mekari. According to multiple reports, Mekari signed a three-year extension worth up to $15.35 million with $7 million in guaranteed money. A former undrafted free agent out of California, the 24-year-old Mekhari has impressed in Baltimore and general manager Eric DeCosta has done well to secure his services for the foreseeable future.
Often described as a well-liked and respectable player in Baltimore's tight-knit locker room, Mekari's versatility would have been well-sought after even as an impending restricted free agent given his ability to play all five positions up front. In 2021, Mekari has mostly manned the right tackle spot for the injury-riddled Ravens, starting 10 games at a position he had little experience and familiarity with professionally prior to the current campaign. Despite lacking the ideal measurements to play tackle (31 ⅝” arms), Mekari has handled himself in rather impressive fashion while unexpectedly being thrust into the limelight. Mekari currently holds a respectable grade of 74.1 in pass protection, via Pro Football Focus.
Mekari's ability to perform as one of the most talented and capable swing linemen in the league has served as a saving grace for the Ravens and will continue to pay dividends in 2022 and beyond with injuries creating some unfortunate uncertainty going forward. Pro Bowl left tackle Ronnie Stanley is currently rehabbing after undergoing season-ending ankle surgery back in October. It was Stanley's second consecutive season-ending ankle surgery after the former Notre Dame standout was ruled out of 2020 for the same ailment. Alejandro Villaneuva, a 34-year-old veteran underperforming offensive tackle is a prime candidate to be released as Baltimore looks for better value against the salary cap before the 2022 season kicks off. The unpredictable future of Baltimore’s starting offensive tackles gains some clarity with Mekari remaining in the fold.
Mekari's lucrative contract extension offers up yet another successful underdog story. He's a true hard-hat, lunchpail kind of football player that buys into the cliches his success further breeds. Baltimore's offense is traditionally powered by its stars and early draft picks. Talents such as Lamar Jackson, J.K. Dobbins, and Stanley serve as the nucleus and backbone of offensive coordinator Greg Roman's unique and highly effective offense. Understandably so as they're three of the most talented players in the league at their respected positions. Injuries to all three superstars (among others) is unfortunately threatening to derail Baltimore’s Super Bowl dreams. When healthy, Baltimore's offense will undoubtedly hit the ground running once again, this year or the next. Players such as Mekari will continue sitting in the background while others soak up the national spotlight. One makes the other tick.