Would the Ravens be better off if 2010 is a capped or uncapped season?

Salary Cap Would the Ravens be better off if 2010 is a capped or uncapped season?

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THE MONEY CLIP:  2010 SALARY
CAP PREVIEW


 


 

CAPPED OR UNCAPPED?
 


 

Heading into 2010, the big question for the Baltimore Ravens isn’t how much Cap space they will have, but whether it will even matter or not?  As it now stands, there will be no Salary Cap in 2010 and teams will be able to sign and re-sign players for as much as they want.  However, the owners and the NFL Players’ Association, mindful of the free-for-all that could accompany an Uncapped year, wrote safeguards into the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement to protect against that.


 

So, when looking ahead to 2010, the question is capped or uncapped?


 

UNCAPPED


 

If 2010 is uncapped, it will create both advantages and disadvantages for the Ravens.  The biggest advantage for the Ravens would be the ability to jettison unwanted contracts without any adverse Salary Cap consequences.  For players like Willis McGahee, Kelly Gregg, Todd Heap, Chris Carr and Domonique Foxworth, this could possibly spell the end of their Ravens careers.  Also, given the concerns about his health, it’s not inconceivable that it would allow the Ravens to part ways with Ed Reed or, at least, lessen the blow from his retirement.


 

An Uncapped year would also allow the Ravens to hold onto a number of players who would otherwise be scheduled to become Unrestricted Free Agents (UFAs).  In the past, with a Salary Cap, players would become UFAs after playing for 4 years, but under the Uncapped Year rules, players must complete 6 years before becoming UFAs.  As such, players like Mark Clayton, Sam Koch, Chris Chester, Dwan Edwards, Dawan Landry, Fabian Washington, Adam Terry, Quinn Sypniewski and Demetrius Williams would not be UFAs in 2010 and could, at least initially, be retained by tendering a RFA tender offer to them.  This would ensure the Ravens would retain the player’s rights or receive draft pick compensation if the player signs an Offer Sheet with another team. 


 

However, this will also be a disadvantage to the Ravens because it would also mean that players from other teams who might interest the Ravens would also not be UFAs either.  For instance, there are several prominent WRs – Vincent Jackson, Miles Austin and Brandon Marshall – who have 4 years of service time and would otherwise be UFAs in 2010, but won’t be if the Uncapped Year becomes a reality.


 

The biggest advantage the Uncapped year would give the Ravens is that it would allow them to sign contract extensions with some of their own players for as much as they would like.  For players like Haloti Ngata, Sam Koch, Jared Gaither and Ben Grubbs, this could prove to be a windfall.  But, with that said, teams will still need to be mindful that a Salary Cap is likely to come back at some point, so any contract signed would need to be structured so as to not cause any overly adverse future Cap implications.


 

The last Uncapped year rule that might impact the Ravens is the so-called “Final Eight Plan” that limits what teams who make the Divisional round of the playoffs (the final 8 teams) in 2009 can do in free agency in 2010.  This limitation basically prohibits the “good” teams from signing a free agent until they’ve lost one.


 

For a more detailed description of the Uncapped Year rules click here


 

CAPPED

 
If the owners and the NFLPA do reach an agreement on a new
CBA before March of next year, then 2010 would likely again be a Capped year.  A new
CBA would likely maintain most of the present Salary Cap rules, but would also probably have some tweaks to the present Salary Cap rules – most likely a harder rookie salary structure.


 

If there is a Salary Cap in 2010, it is conservatively estimated to increase to around $136M, up $8M from the 2009 Salary Cap of $128M (the Cap increased from $117M to $128M from 2008 to 2009).  


 

Going on those assumptions, the Ravens look to be in great Salary Cap shape for 2010.  Based on the players under contract for 2010, the Ravens have just over $83.6M committed to the Cap, leaving them with a little under $52.4M in Cap space.  However, they only presently have 29 players under contract for 2010, so that Cap space will come down once they tender their RFAs and EFAs.


 

Presently, the Ravens have 9 players scheduled to become EFAs and 8 players scheduled to become RFAs.  As in the past, the Ravens will likely tender all of their EFAs with tender offers, thereby retaining their rights for 2010.  These tenders will reduce the team’s available Cap space by $3.9M.


 

It is likely that the Ravens will also tender all of their RFAs, but at different levels, to ensure adequate draft pick compensation if the player signs a RFA offer sheet with another team and the Ravens decline to match that offer sheet.
 
The Ravens’ RFAs and likely Tenders are as follows:


 

·         OT Jared Gaither – 1st and 3rd Round Tender – $3.043M

·         FB Le’Ron McClain – 2nd Round Tender – $1.684M

·         QB Troy Smith – 2nd Round Tender – $1.684M

·         OG Marshall Yanda – 2nd Round Tender – $1.684M

·         LB Antwan Barnes – Low Tender – $1.101M (4th round Comp)

·         QB John Beck – Low Tender – $1.101M (2nd round Comp)

·         LB Prescott Burgess – Low Tender – $1.101M (6th round Comp)

·         TE – Edgar Jones – Low Tender – $1.101M (No Comp)


 

The total for the RFA tenders is $12.499M.   Therefore, reducing the team’s available Salary Cap space of $52.4M by the $3.9M for the EFAs and $12.99M for the RFAs, the Ravens would have 46 players under contract or tendered with available Salary Cap space of $36M.
 

However, during the offseason, the top 51 Salary Cap numbers count against the Cap and it is likely that the team will re-sign most of its Practice Squad players to minimum salary deals.  As such an additional $325K for each player necessary to trigger the “Rule of 51” will be deducted from the available Cap space, reducing that number to just under $34.4M.


 

It is also likely that several players will have met escalators that are written into their contracts that will increase their 2010 base salaries.  These escalators will further reduce the team’s available Cap space.   As a former 1st round pick, Haloti Ngata has a $2M escalator that he has likely earned (the exact criteria is unknown) which will increase his 2010 base salary.  Joe Flacco also has escalators written into his deal, but the exact details are unknown.  For the purposes of this Preview, it is estimated that Flacco’s escalator will be in the $3M range (hopefully that is on the high side).


 

So, based on all of the above, if there is a Salary Cap in 2010, the Ravens should enter the offseason with just under $30M in Salary Cap space.

PLAYERS WHO
MAY BE RELEASED OR RETIRE:
  In addition to the above moves, there may be several players, who – for a variety of reasons – may not return to the team next year.  The following is a breakdown of how the release or retirement of those players would impact the team’s Salary Cap:


 

NAME

Contract

Expires

After

2010

Base

Salary

2010

Cap Number

Pre-June 1

Release

Savings

2010

Dead Money

Post-June 1

Release

Savings

2010

Dead

Money

2011

Dead Money

Trevor Pryce

2010

4.5M

6.75M

4.5M

2.25M

same

same

0

Samari Rolle

2012

1.95M

$2.275M

1.3M

975K

1.95M

325K

650K

Todd Heap

2011

4.0M

5.968M

3.432M

2.536M

4.0M

1.968M

568K

Ed Reed

2012

6.0M

8.8M

3.4M

5.4M

6.0M

2.8M

2.6M

Kelly Gregg

2012

3.0M

3.789M

1.422M

2.367M

3.0M

789K

1.578M

Chris Carr

2010

$2.0M

$2.73M

$2.0M

$730K

same

same

0

Willis McGahee

2013

3.6M

6.1M

(2.65M)

8.75M

3.6M

2.5M

$6.25M

D. Foxworth

2012

3.2M

6.2M

3.2M

3.0M

same

same

0


 


 

 

Several of these players would appear unlikely to return.

 
Given their ages and health concerns, it wouldn’t be very surprising to see both DE Trevor Pryce and CB Samari Rolle retire.  If not, the team might just release them anyway.  Those two moves alone would create close to $6M in additional Salary Cap space for the team.


 

Age and declining performance could also lead the Ravens to decide to part ways with Todd Heap as well.


 

Ed Reed’s ongoing health issues will also likely lead to discussions regarding his retirement.


 

Age and performance are issues with Kelly Gregg and Chris Carr, but both are relatively cheap, so it wouldn’t be very surprising to see the team keep both of them, at least until they get beaten out for a roster spot.


 

RB Willis McGahee’s status will also be worth watching.  Releasing McGahee, either before June 1 or after, will still cause a huge amount of dead money to count against the Cap.  The team would appear to have enough Cap space to take on the additional $2.65M if they release him, but it’s still an awful lot of dead money to absorb.  So, if he is released, it’s very possible that the team would use a post-June 1 release, so that they can push most of the dead money off for another year.  On the other hand, depending on who else might be released – for instance, if Heap or Reed was released or retired – the team might just decide they have more than enough Cap space to eat all of McGahee’s dead money at once.


 

The status of CB Domonique Foxworth also bears some watching.  When Foxworth was signed by the Ravens last March, it was reported that he received $16.5M in “guaranteed” money.  As it turns out, Ravens24x7 has learned that much of reported $16.5M in “guaranteed” money – specifically, the $6.5M Option Bonus due in March of 2010 – was not actually guaranteed.  Further, his 2010 base salary of $3.2M is only guaranteed against injury, so if he is released for performance reason, he will receive none of that money.  As such, close to $9M of the reported $16.5M in guaranteed money is really not guaranteed.  So, if the team declines to pay that Option Bonus and releases Foxworth, they would only be on the hook for $3M in dead money against the 2010 Salary Cap (3/4th of the $4M signing bonus paid last March).


 

Now, it remains to be seen whether the team would release Foxworth, but at least the Salary Cap implications wouldn’t be as harsh as the original reports made it appear.


 

UNRESTRICTED
FREE AGENTS: 
The Ravens currently have 16 players who are scheduled to become Unrestricted Free Agents at the end of the season.  They are:


 

·         DT Justin Bannan

·         OG Chris Chester

·         WR Mark Clayton

·         DT Dwan Edwards

·         P Sam Koch

·         S Dawan Landry

·         WR Derrick Mason

·         OT Tony Moll

·         TE LJ Smith

·         TE Quinn Sypniewski

·         OT Adam Terry

·         WR David Tyree

·         CB Frank Walker

·         CB Fabian Washington

·         WR Kelley Washington

·         WR Demetrius Williams


 

It would appear that very few of the above would be priorities for the Ravens to re-sign and none are going to command sizeable FA contracts.  It is likely that the Ravens would have some interest in re-signing guys like Bannan, Chester, Clayton, Edwards, Koch, Ma

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Brian McFarland

About Brian McFarland

Known on Ravens Message Boards as "B-more Ravor", Brian is a life-long Baltimorean and an avid fan of the Ravens and all Baltimore sports.  A PSL holder since 1998, Brian has garnered a reputation as a cap-guru because of his strange (actually warped) desire to wade through the intricacies of the NFL's salary cap and actually make sense of it for those of us who view it as inviting as IRS Tax Code.      Brian, who hails from Catonsville, MD and still resides there, is married and has two children. More from Brian McFarland

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