Ravens Off-season Part 2: Extension Candidates
In the first part of this two part series, we looked at the current Ravens salary cap situation. Of course it’s a fluid situation, but it’s a tight one nonetheless as the Ravens hope for another large cap increase for the 2015 season. In order to create more cap room, some players will have their contracts restructured and others possibly outright released in order to save money to make other moves in the upcoming season. Here are some of those moves we can look forward to, pertaining to the most significant of players.
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FYI: Joe Flacco’s cap number is down a quarter million dollars from the 2014 season. So the “he needs to take pay cuts like Tom Brady” talk can stop right now. Even though it’s not a pay cut Brady takes, it’s a bonus heavy, cap friendly restructure that we can get into next year when his cap number about doubles to over $28.5M. Tom Brady doesn’t take “less money” for the better of the team. I digress. Just been hearing this notion thrown around a lot lately.
The long time staple in the trenches for the Ravens will turn 31 years old in a few days. The nine-year veteran is entering the final year of his 4/$48.5M extension he received in 2012. Ngata has been named to Pro Bowls every year from 2009 to 2013, and is a two time All-Pro (09’, 10’). The physics defying 6’4”, 335 pound mountain of a man, has the ability to chase down scrambling quarterbacks, cut off the RB before he turns the corner, and fly through the air to pick off batted balls. The constant double teams he faces opens the door for guys like Timmy Jernigan and Brandon Williams to generate pressure one-on-one, and C.J. Mosley to roam free in the middle of the field. A big reason why the Ravens haven’t allowed a 100 yard rusher in 29 games.
However, when Ngata missed the final four games of the regular season for testing positive for Adderall use, it seemed the defense didn’t miss a beat. Jernigan and Williams appear to be ready to become the future on the front line of Dean Pees’ 3-4 defense.
Ngata is due $16M against the cap in 2015. The highest cap number on the team. If the Ravens were to release Ngata and press on with the youngsters, he would still cost the team $7.5M in dead money against the cap, and it would open up $8.5M in cap space.
Another way of saving money without releasing Ngata would be to offer another extension, similar to what the team did with Terrell Suggs following the 2013 season. Suggs received a four year extension through 2018 worth $20.7M. $16M of that was guaranteed, but staggered in a way that if you get only three years out of the veteran, He can be released for cap savings on the back end of the deal.
In order for an extension offer to be considered by Ngata, he’ll want guaranteed money at least in the amount of the base salary he would be due in 2015. This is $8.5M. Suggs was due $7.6M in base salary before his extension, and was given $16M in guaranteed money. Ngata would probably seek a similar size extension to Suggs, in the four year range worth $32M, with $18M of that guaranteed. $14M of that can be a signing bonus, and guarantee the base salary for the next two years.
In this scenario, the Ravens would save $4.7M in cap space for 2015, and another $5.5M in 2016 when the prorated bonus money from the previous contract goes away.
It maybe one year too early to mention Webb. He hasn’t lived up to the billing that came with his at the time, fourth highest average annual value contract among cornerbacks signed in 2012. He owns the third highest salary cap number on the squad behind Haloti Ngata and Joe Flacco, with $12M on the books for 2015. He restructured his contract prior to the 2014 season to create some team cap space. $4M of his base salary was converted to bonus money, paid up front, and spread across the remaining four years of his deal at $1M a year.
It’s highly unlikely that Webby would be released for two reasons. The big one is that the secondary is already shallow enough as it is. Second, it’s only about $2M in savings versus the $10M in dead money. Unless the Ravens wait until after June 1st to cut him. Then he is only worth $4M in dead money this season. So $8M in savings, but then $6M in dead money on the books in 2016.
By letting him playout 2015, in 2016 the Ravens would face $6M in savings, and have a better idea of the player they have who has battled injuries and will hit age 30 by that point.
I wouldn’t even consider Webb for restructure yet. With two years and club option for a third left on his deal, he has $24.5M in base salary due to him if he plays out the whole thing. An extension, with that much guaranteed, could put the overall value around at least $50M. Close to Richard Sherman territory ($56M). I don’t think so.
Ok, the Ravens should not release the best guard in football who also showed that he can play tackle in pinch at a high level too. Yanda is entering the final year of his contract, and if the Ravens shock the world, they would eliminate $5.5M in cap space by releasing Yanda. His cap number for 2015 is $8.45M, fifth highest on the team, just behind Ray Rice’s $9.5M on the books as dead money.
You don’t want to lose this guy, and there are no red flags surrounding the 30 year old, seven year veteran All-Pro.
In order to restructure his deal including an extension, I think the starting point is, what are the other top guards in the game getting paid?
Jahri Evans – 31 years old, 7/$56.7M, $19M guaranteed. ($8.1M per)
Logan Mankins – 32 years old, 6/$51M, $21.5M guaranteed. (8.5M per)
Granted, these contracts were given out when these guys were in their prime four and five years ago. Roger Saffold signed a deal in his prime last year at age 26 for 5/$31.347M, $19.5M guaranteed ($6.269M per). I think Yanda can be worth in the middle of those per year numbers on the downside of 30 years of age. Not quite $8M, but definitely over $6M. Probably a four year extension that takes him up to age 35. But the guaranteed money should be a large chunk, and he’s deserved it. Say 4/$28M, ($7M per) with $16.5M guaranteed. Same as Suggs did, and the Ngata example above, guarantee the first two years of base salary, and call it a $12M signing bonus.
In this scenario, the Ravens save $2.1M against the cap in 2015, and lock up an All-Pro guard to the point he could conceivably finish his career in Baltimore.
The Ravens exercised a club option for 2015 on Smith, worth $6.898M. It’s my understanding that that figure becomes guaranteed on the first day of the 2015 league season coming in March. If it is guaranteed money, and the Ravens choose to extend him, it will only make his cap number larger in 2015 when you add in his new base salary, a signing bonus, and this, then prorated figure of $6.898M. That isn’t the goal here in a tight cap situation. Ravens may have to lock him up after the season, before the 2016 free agency period starts.
Defensive end Chris Canty, and punter Sam Koch, are the other two men with significant savings attached to their release. $2.66M and $2.5M in cap savings respectively.
If the proposed restructures would happen to take place, the Ravens open up $6.8M in cap space. Plus, IMO, Canty is as expendable as it gets, losing a lot of playing time this year. His release gives the Ravens $9.46M in cap savings with the two large restructures.
Sam Koch seems like a slam dunk to find savings. He’s just a punter, right? Well, they have feelings too, and Koch is one of the best and had his best season. Coach Harbaugh loves his special teams guys as a former special teams guy himself, and each year when Koch’s name comes up, he quickly makes it known that he isn’t going anywhere.
Going back to part one of this series, where we hope that the cap gets the same kind increase it got in 2013, taking it upwards of $143M, and the Ravens would have $10,604,246 in cap space. Add in this new $9.46 in savings, it gives the Ravens $20,064,246 in cap space, all while trimming the cap numbers and ensuring you hang onto two key players.
$20,064,246 in cap space with a $143M cap means the Ravens have used $122,935,754 with 41 players under contract. 14.1% of useable cap space would be up from the 7.6% before. Plus, slightly over $2M per roster spot left to fill to get to the top 51 contracts. A better ratio then they had in 2013 when the Suggs extension gave them more room to make all of the key additions they did. Smith Sr., Daniels, Forsett, Monroe, and the list goes on.
A couple restructures, one easy release, a favor from the league with a nice size cap increase, and this team can wheel and deal, or bring back some key players from 2014 in Justin Forsett, Torrey Smith, and Pernell McPhee.
And let’s not forget about Morgan Cox, the least appreciated person on any team’s roster. The long snapper. Long snaps have never been an issue with him around, and they have been shaky at times since he has been sidelined. It won’t cost an arm and a leg to bring an Ed Block Courage Award winner back into the fold. So bring back the unsung hero.
Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently resides in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010. Mike has appeared as a guest on Q1370, and FOX45. Now a Sr. Ravens Analyst for BSL, he can be reached at [email protected]