SALARY CAP UPDATE

Salary Cap SALARY CAP UPDATE

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When the new CBA was signed last August, the 2011 Salary Cap was artificially set by agreement between the NFL owners and the NFLPA.  With the new CBA essentially now really in its first year, the amount of the 2012 Cap is to be set by the new formula as set out in the new CBA. 

At this point, that amount is a mystery.   

So, the biggest variable in determining the Ravens’ Salary Cap status is just what the Salary Cap is going to be.  Some media reports have indicated that the Cap isn’t going to go up from last year’s $120M, while others expect it to go up to only around $125M.   

For the purposes of this article, we’ll split those numbers in the middle and go with a projected Salary Cap of $123M.  Obviously, if the Cap does end up being higher, then the available Cap space for the Ravens will increase too. 

PLAYERS UNDER CONTRACT:

Since our last update, the Ravens have signed 9 players to Future/Reserve contracts for 2012.  The Ravens now have the following 44 players under contract for 2012 (with base salaries indicated):

QBs (2):  Joe Flacco ($6.76M), Tyrod Taylor ($465K)

RBs (4):  Ricky Williams ($1.5M), Vonta Leach ($3M), Anthony Allen ($465K), Damien Berry ($390K)

WRs (9):  Anquan Boldin ($6M), Torrey Smith ($529K), Lee Evans ($3.375M), David Reed ($540K), Tandon Doss ($465K), LaQuan Williams ($465K), Patrick Williams ($465K), Rodney Bradley ($390K), Phillip Livas ($390K)

TE (3):  Ed Dickson ($540K), Dennis Pitta ($540K), Davon Drew ($390K)

OL (7):  Michael Oher ($865K), Bryant McKinnie ($2M), Marshall Yanda ($4.5M), Jah Reid ($465K), Ramon Harewood ($540K), Cecil Newton ($390K), Howard Barbieri ($390K)

DL (7):  Haloti Ngata ($2.9M), Terrence Cody ($540K), Paul Kruger ($615K), Arthur Jones ($540K), Pernell McPhee ($465K), Michael McAdoo ($465K) , Bryan Hall ($390K)

LBs (3):   Ray Lewis ($4.95M), Terrell Suggs ($4.9M), Cody Glenn ($540K)

CBs (4):  Domonique Foxworth ($5.6M), Chris Carr ($2.5M), Jimmy Smith ($714K), Chykie Brown ($465K)

S (3):  Ed Reed ($7.2M), Bernard Pollard ($1.55M), Emmanuel Cook ($540K)

ST (2):  Billy Cundiff ($2.2M), Sam Koch ($1.6M)

Now included amongst the above numbers are the increases in the base salaries of Joe Flacco, Bryant McKinnie and Bernard Pollard.  Each of whom earned escalators in their base salaries by reaching various performance measures in 2011.

Also of note is that Ricky Williams, while having announced his retirement, is still showing up on NLFPA salary database.  As such, it appears that he has yet to formally file his retirement papers.  Until he does (or the Ravens release him), he will still count against their Salary Cap.

These 44 players are under contract for a total Salary Cap commitment of $116.515M.

This is the number that you will see reported and discussed often over the next couple of weeks, but it’s often misleading and misunderstood.  With only 44 players considered, it is not an accurate depiction of a full roster.  So, while this number is indicative of the Ravens’ present Salary Cap status, it only includes the players that are presently under contract and does not include any of the tenders for the team’s RFAs and EFAs.

So, while those reports may say that the Ravens are $6.5M under the Salary Cap (of $123M), those reports are not a complete and accurate picture of the team’s Cap status.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS (EFAs):

These players must be tendered contracts of the league minimum, based on the player’s length of service in the league ($540K, $465K or $390K).  Once tendered, these players are fully under the team’s control and are not free to negotiate with other teams.

The Ravens have 7 players who are Exclusive Rights Free Agents (EFAs):

OG – Justin Boren

LB – Josh Bynes

LS – Morgan Cox

CB – Danny Gorrer

LB – Sergio Kindle

LB – Albert McClellan

LB – Chavis Williams

Assuming the Ravens tender all 7 of those players, those tenders will add $3.255M to the team’s Cap commitment.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (RFAs):

These are players whose contracts have expired and who have 3 years of accrued service time.  The team must tender the player with an RFA offer.  Once done, another team can sign the RFA to an RFA offer sheet, but the Ravens then have 7 days to match that offer sheet and retain the player under the terms of that offer sheet.  If the Ravens were to choose not to match the offer sheet, then they would receive compensation based on which level of RFA tender was made to the player.

There are 3 RFA tenders (the new CBA did away with the “high” tender of 1st and 3rd round draft picks as compensation):

1st Round Tender:  allows the team to receive the other team’s 1st round pick – $2.742M (est)

2nd Round Tender:  allows the team to receive the other team’s 2nd round pick – $1.927M (est)

Low Tender:  allows the team to receive a draft pick equal to the round in which the player was originally drafted or the Right of First Refusal (ROFR) for an undrafted player – $1.26M (est)

The Ravens have 4 players who are Restricted Free Agents (RFAs):

LB – Dannell Ellerbe  (UDFA – projected 2nd round tender)

RB – Matt Lawrence (UDFA – projected ROFR tender)

CB – Lardarius Webb (3rd round pick – projected 1st round tender)

CB – Carey Williams (7th round pick – projected 2nd rounder tender)

In the past, the Ravens have usually tendered all of their RFAs, but on occasion, the team has non-tendered some players and instead, offered them one-year veteran minimum contracts.  The veteran minimum salary for those players would be $615K.  This year, Matt Lawrence (although there does seem to be some confusion about whether he’s a RFA or EFA) could be a candidate for such a deal, if he’s even retained at all.

When those 4 RFA tenders are made (if an RFA tender is given to Lawrence), an additional $7.856M will be added to the team’s Salary Cap commitment.

PROJECTED SALARY CAP COMMITMENT:

Once the Ravens have tendered all of their RFAs and EFAs, the Ravens will have a total Cap commitment of $127.626M for the 55 players under contract or tendered.  However, at this time of the offseason, only the top 51 base salaries and all bonus prorations count against the Cap.  The so called “Rule of 51” is necessary at this time of the year because offseason rosters can balloon up to 90 players and it would be impossible for teams to count all of those players and remain under the Salary Cap.   

As such, of the 55 Ravens that will be under contract or tendered, 4 of those won’t actually count against the Cap based on the Rule of 51.  With those 4 players removed (each of whom is making $390K), the Ravens will have a team Cap number of $126.066M.

2011 SALARY CAP CARRYOVER:

The new CBA allows teams to carry over unused Cap space from one year to the next.  In our last update, we estimated that the Ravens would be able to carry over approximately $6M in excess 2011 Cap space into 2012.  Ravens24x7 has learned that the Ravens will be carrying over their 2011 excess of $6,181,651 to increase their 2012 Cap.

AMOUNTS BORROWED FROM FUTURE CAPS:

The new CBA gives teams the option to borrow $1.5M from future Salary Caps to use this year.  This money will not need to be repaid until 2014 and later.  It is expected that the Ravens will exercise this option.

PROJECTED SALARY CAP SPACE:

Based on all of the above, it appears that the Ravens will have an Adjusted Salary Cap of $130.681M (Salary Cap of $123M + $6.181M carry over + $1.5M borrowed), with a Cap commitment of $126.066M, leaving them with $4.615M in available Cap space heading into the free agent period.  (Link to Salary Cap Spreadsheet)

CAP ADJUSTMENT FOR 2011 INCENTIVES:

Other than the actual amount of the Salary Cap, the only other unknown variable that remains to be disclosed is the team’s Cap adjustment for earned and unearned 2011 incentives.

This adjustment credits the team for incentives that counted against the 2011 Cap, but that weren’t earned, and charges the Cap for incentives that didn’t count against last year’s Cap, but that were earned. 

This adjustment isn’t usually disclosed until a week or two before the free agent period begins. 

FRANCHISE TAG:

The Ravens have two players who they may consider using the Franchise Tag on – RB Ray Rice and Guard Ben Grubbs.  The projected Franchise Tag for a RB is around $7.7M, while the projected Tag number for an Offensive Lineman is expected to be around $9.5M. 

It seems likely that the Ravens would use the Franchise Tag on Rice, if he is not re-signed by early March. 

CREATING ADDITIONAL CAP SPACE – RELEASE, RESTRUCTURE, RETIREMENT:

Obviously, the Ravens are going to need to create additional Cap space. 

The team could choose to restructure some of its players’ contracts, but that usually means trading future Cap space for present Cap space, and can often lead to Salary Cap troubles in the future.  Over much of the last decade, the Ravens have done a good job of avoiding the need to restructure contracts.   

So, the team’s main avenue for creating Cap space will come from the release or the retirement of players.  The following players are under contract for 2012, but may (or may not) be on the bubble to return because of salary, not performing to the level of their contract, or retirement:

Player

Contract

Expires

After

2012

BaseSalary

+ Roster

Bonus

2012

Cap Number

Pre-June 1

Release

Savings

2012

Dead Money

Post-June 1

Release

Savings

2012

Dead

Money

2013

Dead Money

D. Foxworth

2012

$5.6M

$8.6M

$5.6M

$3.0M

same

same

same

Lee Evans

2012

$4.375M

$5.758M

$4.375M

$1.383M

same

same

same

Ray Lewis

2015

$4.95M

$6.85M

$2.0M

$4.85M

$4.95M

$1.9M

$2.95M

Ed Reed

2012

$7.2M

$8.5M

$7.2M

$1.3M

same

same

same

Billy Cundiff

2015

$2.2M

$2.8M

$400K

$2.4M

$2.2M

$600K

$1.8M

Anquan Boldin

2013

$6.0M

$7.531M

$4.469M

$3.062M

$6.0M

$1.531M

$1.531M

Chris Carr

2014

$2.5M

$3.45M

$600K

$2.85M

$2.5M

$950K

$1.9M

Ricky Williams

2012

$1.55M

$1.55M

$1.55M

0.0

same

same

same

First, it appears to be a given that CB Domonique Foxworth will be released.  He’s barely played during the last 2 seasons, has been passed on the depth chart by numerous other CBs and is set to make a base salary of $5.6M.  Since 2012 is the last year of his contract, his release will not only save the team $5.6M in cash spending, but will also create an additional $5.6M in Salary Cap Space.

Next player to consider is RB Ricky Williams.  Williams has announced his retirement, although it appears that he has yet to file his official retirement papers.  Until he does or the Ravens release him or place him on their retired list, he will still count $1.55M against the team’s Cap.  It’s likely that the Ravens would add him to their Retired/Reserved list at some point, but may also reserve space in their budget for his possible return. 

The guess here is that the team will also release WR Lee Evans.  Due to injury, Evans never really seemed to find his way in Baltimore, and with Torrey Smith showing so much promise, it’s going to be difficult for the team to justify paying Evans $4.375M in 2012.  Evans does still have something to offer as a veteran WR, so it’s possible that the team may look to re-sign him later at a reduced rate.

Those 3 moves alone would allow the team to create an additional $10.355M in Salary Cap space ($11.525M less $1.17M – the cost to replace those 3 amongst the top 51 cap numbers under the Rule of 51). 

After that, barring something unexpected, the other two possible moves the team may make are the release of CB Chris Carr and/or PK Billy Cundiff.  Neither of those moves, though, would likely bring the team any immediate Cap relief because both, if released, would likely be released with a June 1st designation.  That would allow the team to get extra savings this year, at the expense of some “dead money” counting next year, but the Cap savings wouldn’t be available until after June 1st.  While that wouldn’t help the team in March, it would create some Cap space necessary to sign the team’s draft picks in August.

So, to summarize, assuming the releases of Foxworth and Evans, along with the retirement of Ricky Williams, the Ravens should be looking at approximately $14.97M in available Salary Cap Space before possibly having to use the Franchise Tag on Ray Rice.

 

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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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