Ravens 2016 Offseason Preview

Current Estimated 2016 Cap Space: $3.8 million

 


Expected 2016 Cap Space: $16.3 million

 

Estimated Rookie Cap: $8.584 million

 

Roster Overview

 

Players Under Contract: 55
Pro Bowlers: 2
Unrestricted Free Agents: 11(2 with 50%+ playtime)
Draft Selection: 6

Salary Cap Breakdown

Ravens Salary Cap

Ravens Spending on Offense

Ravens spending on defense

Free Agents to Re-sign

Justin Tucker should become the highest paid kicker in the NFL and I believe the Ravens will either use the franchise tag on him or sign him long term…Kelechi Osemele may prove to be too expensive to retain especially if he fields offers as a tackle, but the Ravens should look to keep their offensive line intact if possible…Expect Shareece Wright, Morgan Cox and Albert McClellan to stay on low cost contracts.

Free Agents to Let Walk

Courtney Upshaw never lived up to the Ravens expectations and a mutual parting of the ways is best for both sides…The Ravens should be able to find a better backup than Matt Schaub and Jimmy Clausen next year.

 

Contracts to Modify

Given the Ravens poor salary cap situation all eyes will be on Joe Flacco’s contract with a $28.55 million cap figure. Flacco’s contract was a byproduct of the Ravens being in a difficult salary cap position following their Super Bowl win and the team kicking the cap charges three years down the line. They can create around $11.4 million by doing a simple restructure but that would leave Flacco with a $36.9 million cap charge in 2017. Given the contract leverage he already has because of this current contract and the uncertainty of his injury the Ravens may be better off riding the season out and then working on an extension next year, though I’d guess a restructure is more likely…  Eugene Monroe has missed 15 games in the last two seasons and should be a prime candidate for a “pay cut or be cut” offer. Id venture that they could save close to $3 million…Marshal Yanda would be the safe bet to restructure for cap relief.

Players to Consider Releasing

The Dennis Pitta contract was a risky one when signed given that he was coming off of injury and general lack of production over any meaningful sample. He’s only played 7 games in the last three seasons and his career could be over. They will only save $600,000 by cutting him because of his contract structure which makes him a likely June 1 designation candidate. By designating him a June 1 cut the Ravens will open up the cap space in June that will be needed to sign draft picks or and UFA’s that no longer count towards the compensatory equation…If Monroe refuses a pay cut they would save $2.1 million which could help retain Osemele…The Ravens used one of those “try to game the compensatory picks formula” option years with Chris Canty and not exercising that option creates $2.15 million in cap room…Kyle Arrington may remain due to the lack of secondary depth and the fact that he only saved $1.4 million on the cap, but he’ll likely have to fight for a spot all summer…Matt Elam may be in the same situation as Arrington. Elam is coming off a biceps tear and has been a disappointment thus far in his career.

Salary Cap Analytics by Bryce Johnston

A lack of salary cap flexibility certainly does not doom a team, but it is not ideal for a team coming off of a 5 win season.  The Ravens will have to release players currently on the roster in order to seek upgrades during the offseason, but the team only possesses the 26th most True Cap Space to work with.  While the Ravens can maintain a large chunk of True Cap Space by restructuring Joe Flacco’s contract, doing so would further limit the team’s flexibility in 2017 and 2018, possibly resulting in the highest Commitment Index score in the league.  Given the team’s strong history of recent success, kicking the metaphorical salary cap can down the road for another season may be the best approach, but the team is in a tenuous situation moving forward.  Absent particularly strong drafting over the next several seasons, the Ravens may find themselves without the salary cap flexibility to both replace departing/aging players and improve roster weaknesses.

-Bryce Johnston, @NFL Cap Analytics

Expected Contract Termination OutcomesExpected Contract Value 2.0 utilizes an algorithm based on a player’s contract characteristics, age, position and 2015 performance to forecast probabilities as to the outcomes of contract termination decisions.   The lower the Expected Outcome, the more likely the player’s contract will be terminated in 2016.  A pay cut is treated as a termination.  We have applied ECV 2.0 to all contracts scheduled to count $2 million or more against the 2016 salary cap with the exception of exercised 5th year rookie options.  Expected Savings is the calculated by multiplying the probability a player will be released by the cap savings realized by the team upon such release.

PlayerPositionExpected OutcomeExpected Savings
C.J. MosleyLB99.9%($1,678)
Jimmy SmithDB99.3%($50,700)
Marshal YandaOL98.0%($108,000)
Sam KochKP95.9%($4,070)
Matt ElamDB85.4%$193,988
Will HillDB85.4%$413,788
Joe FlaccoQB81.2%$507,330
Elvis DumervilLB78.1%$575,663
Dennis PittaTE56.9%$258,780
Daryl SmithLB53.4%$1,223,513
Eugene MonroeOL51.6%$1,016,820
Jeremy ZuttahOL50.2%$640,480
Lardarius WebbDB47.5%$1,837,150
Justin ForsettRB40.1%$1,376,550
Kyle ArringtonDB26.1%$1,058,660
Terrell SuggsLB16.1%($1,166,200)
Chris CantyDE9.6%$1,944,460
Steve SmithWR6.1%$2,816,100
Expected Change in Cap Room+$12,536,704

True Cap SpaceRealizable Cap Space depicts the total amount of salary cap space potentially at the team’s disposal in 2016, and True Cap Space makes further adjustments to take into consideration amounts that are accounted for in practical terms.  Most True Cap Space will be used on players currently under contract as a result of the team choosing to not release them.

True Cap Space (2016)
Adjusted Salary Cap$151,633,944
Prorated Signing Bonus Amounts($42,989,442)
Realizable Cap Space$108,644,502
Fully Guaranteed Salary($15,854,704)
Minimum Salary Cap Holds($21,600,000)
True Cap Space$71,189,798
League Rank26th

Commitment Index – Commitment Index identifies the degree to which a team has “mortgaged its future” by measuring its net future salary cap commitments  as a percentage of the average net future salary cap commitments of all teams.  A Commitment Index Score of 100% is average, and a negative Commitment Index Score indicates that the team has more current salary cap space than future salary cap commitments.

Commitment Index (2017+)
Prorated Signing Bonus Amounts$60,936,026
Fully Guaranteed Salary$2,844,759
Current Cap Space($1,944,966)
Net Commitment$61,835,819
Commitment Index Score358%
League Rank (1st = Most Committed)3rd

Offseason Plan

The Ravens look to be in that position that almost every successful franchise will face at some point. In order to keep their playoff window open Baltimore has leveraged themselves with signing bonuses and backloaded contracts for aging players which creates a difficult decision for Ravens management. The salary cap savings created by releasing those players doesn’t come close to covering the cost of replacing the player which likely means the Ravens will have no choice but to come back with the same team next season and hope that the injuries don’t occur and that father time doesn’t impact anyone’s play. Restructuring most contracts is not the answer as it only hurt the salary cap in the future and right now the Ravens are near the bottom of the league in projected future cap room in 2017.

In some ways the Ravens are better equipped to deal with the cap issues than others only because they typically are inactive in free agency in hopes of gaining compensatory draft picks, though  the quality of free agent that have this year won’t give them much in the way of comp picks. This might have been one of the rare seasons where they would have gone into free agency with a thought of looking at true free agents.

They certainly have plenty of needs to fill. They need a major upgrade at receiver. Steve Smith indicated he’ll return but he’s playing on borrowed time at this point.  Could they look to sign a Vincent Jackson or Mike Wallace type if released as a band aid player? I guess they could but that is not a long term solution. The fact that they let Torrey Smith walk last season tells me that this will be a draft fix because none of the free agents this year are any better than Smith and most will be overvalued.

Cornerback is another significant need for the team. They are compromised a bit there financially with some big contracts to Webb and Jimmy Smith, neither of whom lived up to the numbers. There may be a few players out there who could help, but given their cap situation and overall investment I think they would be looking low tier veteran ($3Mish per year) rather than a $7 million player who projects to start.

Alongside cornerback would be Safety. They don’t have much there and I dot think they will rely on Elam to grow into the role at this point. If there was a position to invest in in free agency I think this would be the one where you can often find decent players at reasonable prices, I just dot know if they plan to look at UFAs or not.

The Ravens need more youth in their linebackers. Terrell Suggs is nearing the end of his career and Elvis Dumervil is probably close too. Daryl Smith is well into his 30s as well. You may get one more season out of these players but they need to get the transition plan in place to have more players ready to step in over the next two years. Their defensive tackles may be in the same boat.

After making the playoffs in 6 of 7 seasons and being one of the most consistent teams in the NFL, I think the Ravens may have reached that point where they likely will fall down for a year or two before coming back up. Having an older team coming off an injury riddled bad season combined with a tight salary cap is rarely the sign of a contender. They have the good general manager and coaching staff to get back on track sooner rather than later, but they will need to do a lot more than just finding a few guys off the scrap heap and hoping draft picks develop quickly if they want to get back to the playoffs next year.

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  • McGeorge

    Given Flaccos injury, the Ravens could gamble and offer him a contract extension, say at 19/20MM year Low ball him a little since they are taking some risk that he’ll be as good as he was before. Then they can spread out the big 2016 hit over a few years.
    Flacco might do it since he got paid, and hasn’t performed like a top star QB since his big contract.

    • NW86

      Maybe, but extending someone who has 3 years left on his contract would be pretty rare, especially when the guy is injured and hasn’t played real well. That would give him more guarantees and add more dead money if cut. They really are in a tough spot with him and I think they really need to suck it up and deal with his cap hit this year, so they have more flexibility in the future.

      • McGeorge

        You have a good point. What I meant by extension s adding 1-2 years, which by then 19/20MM will be the average QB salary if the cap keeps going up. Then they could push some money out then. He’ll be 33 by the time his contract is up. I assume he’ll still have a few years left. Given the lack of Tier 2 QBs, 19/20MM in 3 years would be a tier 2 QB average.

        On the other hand , I see your point, suck it up for this year, let a good player (Kelechi Osemele) walk, and hope to have a good draft.

  • Jeff

    I know this is over a month old, so I won’t touch on things that have already been proven wrong in this but:

    1. You said “Marshal Yanda would be the safe bet to restructure for cap relief.”
    Did you bother to check his contract? He just signed a 4 year extension in October of 2015 and was graded as the #1 guard in the NFL last season by pro football focus. There is zero chance they would go to him 5 months after giving him an extension and ask him to take a paycut or try to restructure his contract. To say that it is a “safe bet” is just plain idiotic and shows your lack of knowledge on the subject.

    2. Safety is actually one of the positions the Ravens have the most depth in. Lardarius Webb announced he would be moving from CB to Free Safety shortly after the season ended, which was confirmed later on by Ozzie Newsome. Will Hill will be back at Strong Safety. We still have Kendrick Lewis for a small cap hit. There’s a good chance we will keep all 3 this season, utilizing their strengths in certain packages. Webb will be back, and we probably will keep his cap number where it is. Hill has a $4.59mil cap hit, but Lewis is FS where we already have Webb now, so Hill would likely edge out Lewis. Lewis has a $1.86mil cap hit and provides veteran depth behind Webb and Hill, so keeping him would make sense.

    3. A WR will definitely be added in the draft this year, but unless the right guy is there at #36 it will be a late round WR. I’d put my money on the Ravens signing a young veteran WR(under 30) shortly before/during the preseason after they’ve been cut by their team (Which is something the Ravens do just about every year for whichever position needs the most help).