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Latest Salary Cap Breakdown for the Baltimore Ravens

Mike FastContributor IDecember 11, 2016

Latest Salary Cap Breakdown for the Baltimore Ravens

1 of 11

    Thirty-one other teams wished they were the Baltimore Ravens right about now.

    Super Bowl champions.

    Although, just 11 days later, things have changed. The 2012 season is officially over and the Ravens were one of the two last teams to turn the page to 2013. In other words, they're about a month behind the curve.

    To illustrate this point, the Ravens had 79 players on their roster as of Tuesday. Twenty-nine of those players (or 36.7 percent) are free agents.

    All I have to say is thank goodness Ozzie Newsome (General Manager, Executive V.P.), Dick Cass (Team President) and Pat Moriarty (V.P., Football Administration) all work for the Ravens. If anyone can sort this out, they can.

    Obviously, Joe Flacco is priority one. After that, who knows?

    Thirteen of the 29 free agents are unrestricted (including Flacco), meaning they can sign with any team that offers them a contract. Flacco is expected to re-sign with the Ravens and it would be a huge shock if he didn't.

    There are, however, nine other Ravens starters who are unrestricted free agents. What should the Ravens do?

    They are currently $10,444,866 under the salary cap for the 2013 season (16th in the league). Their current contracts count as $109,987,329 against the 2013 salary cap.

    There isn't a lot of room to work with, but thankfully this team has shown they have the blueprint for sustained success in the salary cap era.

Quarterbacks

2 of 11

    Current combined salary

    $581,327

    Most important free agent

    Joe Flacco (UFA)

    Free agency or draft new players?

    Free agency

    Analysis

    All Joe Flacco did was post a playoff quarterback rating of 117.2, accompanied by 1,140 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

    After a home win versus Indianapolis, Flacco and the Ravens went on the road to beat the No. 2 overall defense (Denver), the team with the best turnover ratio (New England, plus-25) and the No. 3 overall defense (San Francisco).

    In each game, Flacco was unquestionably the best player on the field.

    If you don't know how valuable Flacco is to the success of the Ravens, you either don't want to admit it or haven't been watching him.

    While he is an unrestricted free agent, it would be a major surprise if he didn't return to Baltimore in 2013. The question is: How much will he sign for?

    There are two ways to look at contracts, especially big contracts. If a player is not in their prime or is an injury risk, a team will usually not include a lot of bonus money (or guaranteed money), but the contract won't be "cap-friendly."

    On the flip side, if a player is in or entering their prime and has proven to be durable (like Flacco is, has), a team will generally have to give up more guaranteed money, but the contract will be more "cap friendly."

    Take the examples of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. 18.8 percent of Manning's $96 million contract is guaranteed and his 2012 cap number was $18 million. 48.6 percent of Brady's $72 million contract is guaranteed and his 2012 cap number was $8 million.

    That said, the average cap number of the top five highest-paid quarterbacks is set to increase from $10.78 million (2012) to $18.16 million (2013). Please believe that Joe Linta (Flacco's agent) is aware of this.

    Again, just watch the film. Who else would you want to run your team for the next 10 years? It's not often you can say this, but in this situation, the Ravens have zero leverage.

Running Backs

3 of 11

    Current combined salary

    $10,702,320

    Most important free agent

    Anthony Allen (ERFA)

    Free agency or draft new players?

    Neither

    Analysis

    This is one of the few positions that is well-stocked. Between Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce and Vonta Leach, the Ravens' running backs are pretty much set.

    Anthony Allen, Damien Berry and Bobby Rainey are also contributors to the point where the Ravens don't need to add new players.

    Besides Leach, who is still playing excellent football, all of the five other backs have five years or less experience. So if the point of obtaining new players is to mold them to your "system," the Ravens can check that box right now.

Wide Receivers

4 of 11

    Current combined salary

    $15,958,740

    Most important free agent

    David Reed (RFA)

    Free agency or draft new players?

    Neither

    Analysis

    According to the Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson, on February 8, Anquan Boldin stated the following:

    Baltimore is the only place I want to play. .. It’s the last place that I will play. For me, I’ll retire a Raven, I’m not putting on any other uniform. .. We have a saying, once a Raven, always a Raven, and I’ll always be a Raven.

    Although he's not a free agent, Boldin's contract will count as $7.531 million against the cap in 2013.

    And although the wide receivers may compose the deepest unit on the team (keep your eye out for names like Deonte Thompson, Tommy Streeter and Tori Gurly), besides Flacco, no Raven was as key to their playoff run as Boldin was.

    In the 2012 postseason, Boldin caught 22 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns (as many touchdowns as he had in the entire regular season).

    If you're going to retain Flacco, you ought to retain his No. 1 option.

    David Reed is mostly a special teams contributor at this point. He played in five games and made five receptions (on six targets) in 2012. If Baltimore keeps him, they will probably offer him a low-round tender.

Tight Ends

5 of 11

    Current combined salary

    $405,000

    Most important free agent

    Dennis Pitta (RFA)

    Free agency or draft new players?

    Free agency

    Analysis

    Both Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson are restricted free agents. A big reason Baltimore's offense was so multiple was because of Pitta's and Dickson's diverse skill sets. Retaining them should be a high priority.

    The type of tender the Ravens offer and what other teams are interested will determine if they are back in Baltimore in 2013.

    Pitta has clearly developed a better rapport with Flacco than Dickson has. Not to say Flacco and Dickson don't get along, but Flacco and Pitta seem to be on the same page at all times.

    Pitta caught 61 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns in 2012. In the playoffs, he caught 14 passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns.

    Like Boldin, Pitta is a go-to target for Flacco, especially in the red zone. For a long time, Baltimore struggled to turn their field goals into touchdowns. Now they're scoring touchdowns.

    In fact, last season, the Ravens scored the most points (398) they've ever scored in their 17-year history.

Offensive Linemen

6 of 11

    Current combined salary

    $21,282,341

    Most important free agent

    Bryant McKinnie (UFA)

    Free agency or draft new players?

    Free agency

    Analysis

    First and foremost, forget putting Michael Oher anywhere but at right tackle.

    Secondly, should Bryant McKinnie get a new contract? He played very well in Baltimore's Super Bowl run, but hasn't always played up to that standard.

    The left tackle is a "key cog in the wheel" of any team, especially one that has a great shot at winning the Super Bowl each year.

    With that comes high contractual demands. The average yearly salary paid to the top-five highest-paid left tackles in the NFL is $10,997,500. Of course McKinnie won't command this much, but you never know what agents will ask for.

    If not McKinnie, could the Ravens find a suitable replacement through the draft? I'm not so sure, considering their draft position and more pressing needs besides offensive line.

Defensive Linemen

7 of 11

    Current combined salary

    $14,303,038

    Most important free agent

    Arthur Jones (RFA)

    Free agency or draft new players?

    Draft new players

    Analysis

    Has anyone noticed how well Arthur Jones played last season?

    For a defensive lineman, 47 tackles and 4.5 sacks are big numbers—especially for a player like Jones that plays all across the defensive line. Jones also registered one sack and a fumble recovery (that led to a Baltimore touchdown) in Super Bowl XLVII.

    Jones earned just $584,500 last season, which is just above the league minimum. To get that kind of production from such a young, inexpensive player is rare.

    Even if the Ravens offer Jones a first-round tender, it's still a bargain considering what he's done and where he's probably going in his career. See the tweet below from the NFL Network's Albert Breer on how much restricted free agents can earn in 2013:

    And here are the tenders for RFAs ... High tender is $2.879M (1st-Rd comp); Next is $2.023M (2nd-Rd comp); Then $1.323M (original draft rd).

    — Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) January 15, 2013

    As good as Jones, Haloti Ngata and Pernell McPhee are, the Ravens should draft more interior defensive lineman in the draft. If the Bengals' recent success has taught you anything, it's that having a deep rotation of defensive lineman will help you win a lot of games.

Linebackers

8 of 11

    Current combined salary

    $14,568,333

    Most important free agent

    Dannell Ellerbe (UFA)

    Free agency or draft new players?

    Free agency

    Analysis

    Between Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger being unrestricted free agents, Ray Lewis' retirement and Jameel McClain recovering from a spinal cord contusion, it's clear that the linebacker position is the one that needs the most work.

    The fact that the Ravens ranked 20th in rush defense last season when they hadn't finished worse than fifth in the previous six seasons tells you how important it is that they acquire quality linebackers in a hurry.

    Losing Lewis' leadership is going to be a significant blow to the defense. Losing his on-field performance and intimidation is going to hurt as well. But potentially losing Ellerbe and Kruger is going to really hurt.

    If possible, the Ravens would like to re-sign Ellerbe and Kruger, with the former being the more probable signing. If they can't do that, they're going to have to rely on young, promising linebackers like Courtney Upshaw and Albert McClellan (ERFA) to step up.

Cornerbacks

9 of 11

    Current combined salary

    $11,177,289

    Most important free agent

    Cary Williams (UFA)

    Free agency or draft new players?

    Draft new players

    Analysis

    Toward the end of last preseason, Cary Williams turned down a three-year, $15 million extension. He ended up making $1.927 million in base salary.

    After making 17 starts over the previous five seasons and not recording an interception, Williams picked off four passes in 2012.

    Since 2011, Williams has started every game for the Ravens and has made 153 tackles and 35 passes defensed.

    Star cornerback Lardarius Webb suffered a torn left ACL in the Dallas game (three years after tearing his right ACL), and second-year cornerback Jimmy Smith struggled to stay healthy while recovering from a sports hernia.

    Forgive the cliche, but if healthy, the Ravens have a deep, talented, young group of cornerbacks. The problem is their best cornerback, who the team signed to a six-year, $50 million contract last offseason, suffered his second ACL tear within three years.

    The Ravens will probably be better off avoiding expensive free agency and look for a new cornerback via the draft.

Safeties

10 of 11

    Current combined salary

    $3,805,146

    Most important free agent

    Ed Reed (UFA)

    Free agency or draft new players?

    Free agency

    Analysis

    Maybe I was in the minority, but when Ray Lewis was up for his last contract negotiation, I thought his leadership was as important as his on-field performance.

    Like Lewis and every other player in NFL history, Ed Reed's performance has declined over the past couple of seasons. It isn't what it has been since the last time he's been up for a contract renewal (2006).

    But like Lewis, Reed is a unique talent whose leadership is as important as his on-field performance, especially considering the void left by Lewis retiring.

    Baltimore has been able to keep Jonathan Ogden and Lewis in their franchise for the totality of their careers. Although money is likely the sticking point, I think both Reed and the Ravens will come to a deal that will result in him staying with the team and retiring as a Raven.

Special Teams Players

11 of 11

    Current combined salary

    $2,980,000

    Most important free agent

    Morgan Cox (RFA)

    Free agency or draft new players?

    Neither

    Analysis

    Justin Tucker had to win his job in training camp. Needless to say, he was the man for the job and had a terrific season. He converted 30-of-33 regular-season field-goal attempts and all four of his postseason attempts (34-for-37, or 91.9 percent).

    Sam Koch had his usual standout season. Even though he made a poor punt in the third quarter of the Super Bowl, he ran eight of the final 12 seconds off the clock by taking a safety and boomed the ensuing free kick 61 yards down the field.

    Morgan Cox is the unsung member of the unsung special teams unit. If you don't know his name, that probably means he's doing his job very well. He won't cost a lot, but between his performance and his chemistry with Tucker and Koch, he's worth keeping.

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