PRESENT SALARY CAP STATUS: With S Matt Elam and NT Brandon Williams being the only remaining unsigned draft picks, the Ravens are currently $1,803,573 under the Salary Cap. Once Elam and Williams have signed, the Ravens will be down to $951,459 in Salary Cap space. However, as of June 2nd, the Ravens will receive an additional $2.5M in Salary Cap space due to designating the March release of S Bernard Pollard as a post-June 1 release.
THE PECULIAR CASE OF TE ED DICKSON: Last week, upon their arrival at the team’s first mini-camp, several of the team’s Exclusive Rights Free Agents (ERFA) signed their ERFA tenders. That left Restricted Free Agent (RFA) TE Ed Dickson as the only ERFA or RFA who has still yet to sign his ERFA/RFA tender. In fact, Dickson, in lieu of signing his tender, signed a “participation agreement” in order to join his teammates on the practice field.
This situation is curious because the period during which Dickson (or any other RFA) could have signed an offer sheet with another team expired on April 19th. As such, Dickson presently has no leverage and is totally under the contractual control of the Ravens, so even if another team was interested (and there were no reports of any interest or visits during the RFA signing period), that ship has already sailed.
Further, it has to be patently obvious to Dickson (and his agent) that fellow TE Dennis Pitta is a higher priority for a contract extension, so using the unsigned tender as some sort of ploy for a contract extension would seem like an extremely futile endeavor.
So, what’s the hold up and what could possibly be achieved by not signing the tender, especially when Dickson didn’t withhold his services and did participate in last week’s mini-camp?
To be honest, it’s really hard to say what he’s thinking, but the Ravens do hold all the cards and are likely to be able to force Dickson to sign the tender soon. In fact, the Ravens have one very large card to play if they choose to do so.
Under the Article 9, Section 2(f)(i) of the CBA, if Dickson has not signed his tender by June 15th, the Ravens can withdraw Dickson’s RFA tender of $1.303M and instead apply a new tender (“June 15 Tender”) which equals 110% of his prior year’s salary. In such case, if the Ravens were to choose to do so, the new tender amount for Dickson would be $836,918.
The Ravens have never applied a June 15 Tender in their history, but they also have rarely ever had a player failed to sign his RFA tender by June 15th. It remains to be seen what Dickson has hoped to accomplish by not signing his tender yet, but it’s likely that he will sign his tender prior to June 15th and not test the team’s patience any longer nor forego close to $500K in salary.
RAVENS GARNISH CB ASA JACKSON: Something the Ravens have, however, done for the first time is to seek the forfeiture of a portion of the Signing Bonus of a suspended player; in this case, CB Asa Jackson. Jackson was suspended for 4 games late in 2012 for violating the league policy against performance enhancing drugs and not only lost 4 game checks, but also subjected himself to a claim for bonus forfeiture under the CBA.
While teams have always received a Salary Cap credit for those game checks lost by a player during a suspension, the 2011 CBA strengthened the team’s ability to recoup a portion of the bonus money already paid to a player when the player is later suspended. Under Article 4, Section 9 of the CBA, the forfeited amount is prorated over the length of the contract and a Salary Cap credit is issued for the years of the contract that have already been completed.
So, in Jackson’s case, since he is under a 4-year contract, the Ravens have received a $2,125 reduction of Jackson’s 2013 Cap number (and a similar reduction in 2014 and 2015) and $2,125 Cap credit in 2013 for what would have been the 2012 portion of the forfeited amount.
While this amount is very insignificant when compared to the Salary Cap of $123M, it does seem to signal a change in the philosophy of the front office and certainly does not bode well for Safety Christian Thompson, who has been suspended for the first 4 games of this coming season. Based on the team’s actions with Jackson, it is expected that the Ravens – who will receive a Cap credit of $112,941 for the 4 game checks that Thompson will not receive during his suspension – will also seek the forfeiture of 4 games worth of the $300,584 Signing Bonus Thompson received in 2012.
As such, Thompson will likely lose $4,420 in bonus forfeiture in 2013 and the Ravens will receive an additional $4,420 Salary Cap credit for the 2012 portion of that bonus forfeiture.
Again, while these amounts are largely insignificant, the Ravens are tight against the Cap and every dollar counts.
UDFA SIGNING BONUSES: One of the many provisions of the new rookie wage scale is a limitation on the amount of money teams can spend on Signing Bonuses for their undrafted free agents (UDFA). Teams are now limited to a maximum of $75,000 for such bonuses.
The Ravens initially signed 15 UDFAs and gave out a total of $73,000 in Signing Bonuses, as follows:
DE Will Pericak ($13,500.00), TE Matt Furstenberg ($10,000.00), OT Jordan Devey ($10,000.00), OT Rogers Gaines ($9,000.00), WR Omarius Hines ($5,500.00), OT Joe Unga ($5,000.00), WR Marlon Brown ($5,000.00), QB Nathan Stanley ($4,000.00), RB Ray Holley ($3,000.00), S Brynden Trawick ($2,000.00), TE Murphy Holloway ($1,500.00), C Jeff Braun ($1,500.00), CB Jose Cheeseborough ($1,000.00), LB Brandon Copeland ($1,000.00), WR Gerrard Sheppard ($1,000.00).
Since the initial rookie mini-camp, the Ravens have released 6 of those players and signed several other UDFAs, but have not given out any additional Signing Bonuses.
Giving out Signing Bonuses of this size to UDFAs is a bit of a departure for the Ravens, who historically have given out some of the smallest UDFA Signing Bonuses in the league (“we offer an opportunity to make our team”).
For example, in 2012, the Ravens only gave out a total of $57,000 (out of a maximum of $75K), with the largest bonus being only $6,000. This change can probably be attributed to 2 factors: (1) the increased competition league-wide for UDFAs; and (2) the fact that the Ravens had more draft picks this year and therefore fewer spots on the 90-man roster to use on UDFAs, hence the ability to “splurge” a bit on the fewer number of UDFAs being signed.