Ravens Off-season Part One: The Salary Cap
In 2013, the NFL salary cap was $123M. In 2014, the cap took an unprecedented increase up $10M to $133M. A 7.62% increase. Increases in revenue the NFL has generated including television dollars have led to the increase. Those things continue to rise and if the salary cap does with it at the same pace, it could rise to $143.13M, or we can round off to $143M.
This would benefit the Baltimore Ravens in a big way who are faced with some tough decisions, and little cap room to start the off-season.
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At this point following the 2013 season, the Ravens had 37 players under contract for the next season and 22.26M in cap space. 16.7% of available cap space left and an average of $1.59M left per roster spot to fill 51, with only the top 51 players counting towards the cap until the season starts. Only the top 51 go against the cap in the offseason because rosters expand up to 90 players.
Here we are kicking off the off-season following the 2014 season, and the Ravens have 42 players under contract for 2015.
42 contracts = $128,419,681
Dead money = $9,872,504 ($9.5M belonging to Ray Rice alone)
2014 rollover = – $5,896,611
Total = $132,395,574
Estimated cap space (Est. $143M cap) = $10,604,426
If we use the estimated 143M cap, and the Ravens already have $132,395,574 wrapped up against the cap, it leaves $10,604,426 in available space. 7.4% of available cap space left and an average of $1.18M left per roster spot to get to that roster number of the top 51 contracts.
Even if the Ravens get lucky and the NFL raises the salary cap at the same rate they raised it last season, They still don’t have quite the room they had a year ago that allowed them to resign guys like Dennis Pitta, Daryl Smith, Eugene Monroe, Jacoby Jones, and also go after free agents like Steve Smith, Justin Forsett and Owen Daniels.
Unrestricted free agents – Torrey Smith, Owen Daniels, Darian Stewart, Justin Forsett, Pernell McPhee, Morgan Cox, Terrence Cody, Jah Reid, Jeromy Miles, Aaron Ross, Tyrod Taylor, and Antoine Cason
If the NFL decides not to increase the salary cap so much, say the NFL ups it only to $136M from $133M, then the Ravens will only have $3,604,426 in cap space, or 2.7% of space left, or about 400K per spot left to get to 51. Consider that your exclusive rights free agents will cost anywhere from about $420K – $570K a piece depending on service time, and the tender for the five restricted free agents could reach about $1.5M a piece, that would make releasing and restructuring some contracts not only a high probability, but an absolute must. A must just to get under the salary cap. Not even talking about adding onto your team through free agency and the draft.
Exclusive rights free agents – Brandon Trawick, Phillip Supernaw, Rashaan Melvin, Chris Greenwood, Casey Walker, and Patrick Scales
Restricted free agents – Lawrence Guy, Will Hill, Anthony Levine, Kamar Aiken, and Justin Tucker
The Ravens often tender each of their ERFAs and RFA, but it isn’t guaranteed money. When this happens, it will add another $10.5M give or take to the salary cap. With 11 players fitting those bills, only 9 of them will account for part of the top 51 salaries. That amount in contracts for ERFAs and RFAs to get the roster to 51 is estimated at $9,555,000.
42 active players, dead money, rollover, total against the cap = $132,395,574
9 ERFAs and RFAs = $9,555,000
Top 51 contracts = $141,950,574
2015 salary cap = ?
Don’t forget that after the draft, at least the first four picks or so are going to be earning contracts with first year values in the top 51, totaling around $3.5M give or take. That takes your top 51 cap number up another $1.52M, replacing some smaller contracts on the top 51. So a cap number around $143.47M. So yes. The Ravens need as much cap space as the NFL is willing to give out this off-season. Thanks Ray Rice.
There are always candidates for contract restructure and extension, candidates for outright release, and ways to save money against the cap. Things the Ravens will absolutely do. More on that in the second part of this series.
Ravens current depth chart with ERFA and RFA players added
QB (2) Joe Flacco, ___________
RB (3) Bernard Pierce, Lorenzo Taliaferro, _____________
FB (1) Kyle Juszczyk
WR (6) Steve Smith, Marlon Brown, Kamar Aiken, Michael Campanaro, Jacoby Jones (KR), ________________
TE (3) Dennis Pitta, Crockett Gilmore, _______________
T (3) Eugene Monroe, Rick Wagner, James Hurst
G (3) Marshal Yanda, Kelechi Osemele, John Urschel
C (2) Jeremy Zuttah, Gino Gradkowski, Ryan Jensen
DT (4) Haloti Ngata, Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan, Lawrence Guy, Casey Walker
DE (3) Chris Canty, DeAngelo Tyson, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Brent Urban
OLB (4) Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw, Steven Means
ILB (5) Daryl Smith, C.J. Mosley, Arthur Brown, Zack Orr, Albert McClellan
CB (5) Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb, Asa Jackson, Rashaan Melvin, Chris Greenwood
S (6) Matt Elam, Terrance Brooks, Will Hill, Brynden Trawick, Anthony Levine, _____________
ST (3) Justin Tucker (K), Sam Koch (P), Patrick Scales (LS)
*(Number the Ravens usually carry)
**Figures courtesy of spotrac.com and overthecap.com
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]