Thursday was a very busy day around the NFL and a lot of the action and announcements have a direct impact on the Ravens’ Salary Cap and the team’s pursuit of a long-term contract for Quarterback Joe Flacco.
EXCLUSIVE FRANCHISE TAG AMOUNT: The first bit of news – good news, at that – was the disclosure that Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has agreed to restructure his contract. Like Tom Brady’s restructure earlier in the week, this restructure operated to reduce the Exclusive Franchise Tag tender amount by $497K. This reduction, couple with the $880K reduction from Brady’s restructure, has now reduced the Exclusive Tag amount from $20.463M to $19.086M.
So, if the Ravens decide to use the Exclusive Tag on Flacco, the amount of the Tag would presently be $19.086M (although, pursuant to the CBA, they would only have to carry Flacco at the Non-exclusive Tag amount until April 20th).
That number could go down further if another quarterback (or two), who is presently in the top 5 (Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers), restructures his contract before Monday’s deadline for the Ravens to use the Franchise Tag on Flacco.
OFFICIAL RETIREMENTS OF RAY LEWIS AND MATT BIRK: While not unexpected, the retirements of Lewis and Birk became official when the Ravens added the two players to their “reserve/retired” list. This list allows the team to remove both players from their Salary Cap, while also retaining their contractual rights over the remaining years of both players’ deals. While the team will still have to carry $4.35M in dead money against the 2013 Salary Cap, this maneuver does open up $6.4M in additional Salary Cap space for the team.
SALARY CAP SET AT $123M: The next bit of good news came Thursday evening, when it was announced that the league had set the Salary Cap at $123M. This amount is about $2M higher than expected and is great news for the Ravens as it may make it easier to use the Franchise Tag on Flacco, if necessary, or keep a player they otherwise may have been forced to release.
NON-EXCLUSIVE FRANCHISE TAG ADJUSTED: One negative ramification of the increased Salary Cap is that the Non-exclusive Franchise Tag tender amounts are tied to the amount of the Cap. As such, the Franchise Tag for quarterback has now increased from the estimated amount of $14.6M to $14.897M. While only a marginal increase, it does reduce the difference between the tender amounts for the Exclusive and Non-exclusive Tags, and with a couple more restructures between now and Monday, may lead the Ravens to be more comfortable with using the Exclusive Tag (if needed).
PRESENT SALARY CAP SPACE: With the announcement of the $123M Salary Cap, the team presently has an Adjust Salary Cap of $124,182,377. This amount includes the $123M Salary Cap plus the carryover of excess 2012 Cap space of $1,182,377. That number will be adjusted downward by March 12th, when teams will be required to carry a charge of $504K for off-season workout bonuses.
Also, at some point over the next week, the team’s Adjusted Cap will likely be increased or decreased based on the carryover of 2012 earned and/or unearned incentives. Once factored in, the Ravens adjusted Cap will be finalized and from March 12th through the end of the league year, the Ravens will have to keep their Salary Cap under that Adjusted Cap number.
With Lewis and Birk now officially off the books, the Ravens presently have 47 players under contract for a Cap commitment of $105,919,179. With an Adjusted Cap of $123,678,377 (including the workout bonus deduction, but pending the incentives credit/debit), the Ravens currently have $17,759,198 in Cap space.
But, a HUGE word of caution when considering that number, and possibly hearing this number (or something comparable) over the next week or so – those numbers only apply to the 47 players currently under contract, many of whom are minimum salaried, camp-fodder types, and does not include the team’s 6 Restricted Free Agents (RFAs) and the team’s 10 Exclusive Rights Free Agents (ERFAs). Once those players are tendered – and depending on which ones are tendered (the team has historically tendered most of them) – that will reduce the team’s Cap space by approximately $8-11M.
That Cap space would, of course be before Flacco would be added in and before the release or restructure of a player (or players).