SALARY CAP UPDATE
March 6, 2014
With the March 11th beginning of the free agent period less than a week away, the Ravens are, according to Head Coach John Harbaugh, “aggressively” pursuing re-signing some of their own pending free agents.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the Ravens’ 2014 Free Agency and Salary Cap status:
PLAYERS UNDER CONTRACT
The Ravens presently have the following 45 players under contract for 2014 (with Cap Numbers indicated):
- QBs (3): Joe Flacco ($14.8M), Tyrod Taylor ($671K), Nick Stephens ($420K)
- RBs (4): Ray Rice ($8.75M), Bernard Pierce ($709K), Kyle Juszczyk ($570K), Cierre Wood ($495K)
- WRs (6): Torrey Smith ($1.078M), Deonte Thompson ($571K), Aaron Mellette ($507K), Marlon Brown (497K), Kamar Aiken ($495K), Gerrard Sheppard ($420K)
- TE (3): Dennis Pitta ($3.2M), Matt Furstenburg ($420K), Nathan Overbay ($420K)
- OL (9): Marshall Yanda ($8.45M), Kelechi Osemele ($913K), Jah Reid ($786K), Gino Gradkowski ($691K), AQ Shipley ($580K), Ricky Wagner ($531K), Ryan Jensen ($515K), David Mims ($495K),
- Reggie Stephens ($495K)
- DL (7): Haloti Ngata ($16M), Chris Canty ($3.167M), Pernell McPhee ($681K), Brandon Williams ($624K), DeAngelo Tyson ($582K), Kapron Lewis-Moore ($517K), Cody Larson ($420K)
- LBs (5): Terrell Suggs ($7.8M), Elvis Dumervil ($3.375M), Courtney Upshaw ($1.445M), Arthur Brown ($808K), John Simon ($591K)
- CBs (4): Lardarius Webb ($10.5M), Jimmy Smith ($2.374M), Chykie Brown ($681K), Asa Jackson ($604K)
- S (1): Matt Elam ($1.538M)
- ST (3): Sam Koch ($2.8M), Justin Tucker ($570K), Morgan Cox ($855K)
These 45 players are under contract for a present Salary Cap commitment (which includes dead money from players no longer on the team) of just over $109.602M.
With the league-wide Salary Cap set at $133M, the Ravens are presently $24.929M under the Salary Cap.
But, it is very important to realize that that figure includes only the 45 players that are currently under contract for 2014.
Those numbers will change over the next week due to the following factors:
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS (ERFAs)
These players must be tendered contracts of the league minimum, based on the player’s length of service in the league ($570K, $495K or $420K). Once tendered, these players are fully under the team’s control and are not free to negotiate with other teams.
The Ravens have 6 players who are Exclusive Rights Free Agents (ERFAs)
- S Omar Brown ($570K)
- LB DJ Bryant ($420K)
- LB Josh Bynes ($570K)
- LB Adrian Hamilton ($495K)
- S Anthony Levine ($495K)
- S Brynden Trawick ($495K)
In the past, the Ravens have usually tendered all of their ERFAs and there would appear to be no reason not to this time around.
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 tendered, another team can sign the player to a 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, they would then receive compensation based on the level of RFA tender made to the player.
There are 3 RFA tenders (the 2011 CBA eliminated the “high” tender of 1st and 3rd round draft picks as compensation):
- 1st Round Tender: allows the team to receive compensation of a 1st round – $3.113M
- 2nd Round Tender: allows the team to receive compensation of 2nd round pick – $2.197M
- Low Tender: allows the team to receive compensation of 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 – $1.431M
The above Tender amounts appear to be set for 2014, so long as the overall Salary Cap does not increase to over $129.15M. Under the terms of the CBA, the RFA Tender amounts increase at the same rate as the overall Salary Cap, with the minimum increase being 5%. The above totals represent that minimum 5% increase, since it appears that the Cap is not going to go up by more than 5%.
The Ravens have 2 players who are Restricted Free Agents (RFAs) – with original draft round indicated:
- WR – Tandon Doss (4th)
- LB – Albert McClellan (undrafted)
In the past, the Ravens usually tendered all of their RFAs, but more recently, the team has non-tendered several of their RFAs and instead re-signed them to a more cap-friendly contracts.
For the purposes of this projection, we’ll assign the low RFA tender to both Doss (4th round comp) and McClellan (ROFR – no comp), but, given that both players plummeted down the team’s depth chart as this past season progressed, it’s very possible – perhaps, even likely – that one or both could be non-tendered and re-signed to more cap-friendly deals or not signed at all.
Keep in mind, though, that RFA/ERFA tenders are not guaranteed, so just because a player is tendered (as either as a RFA or ERFA) that is not a guaranty that the player will ultimately make the final 53-man roster. The player can be released at any time, even after signing the tender, and he will count zero against the team’s Salary Cap.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (UFAs)
The following 13 players are Unrestricted Free Agents (UFAs) and will be free to sign with other teams if they haven’t re-signed with the Ravens before Free Agency begins on March 11th at 4:00 p.m.:
- TE Dallas Clark
- NT Terrence Cody
- TE Ed Dickson
- CB Corey Graham
- DT Arthur Jones
- WR Jacoby Jones
- S James Ihedigbo
- S Jeromy Miles
- OT Eugene Monroe
- OT Michael Oher
- RB Bernard Scott
- LB Daryl Smith
- WR Brandon Stokley (has announced intention to retire)
2013 SALARY CAP CARRYOVER
Under the CBA, teams are allowed to carry over excess Salary Cap space from one year to the next. The Ravens finished the 2013 season with around $1.531M in excess Cap space.
There are 3 further adjustments that will affect the Ravens Salary Cap – (1) workout bonuses, (2) bonus forfeiture credit(s) and (3) the 2013 earned/unearned incentives carryover.
The first two of these are already known. Under the terms of the CBA, as of the beginning of the league year (March 11th), every team is charged with a workout bonus deduction of $504K. The second adjustment is a credit for the bonus forfeiture due to Asa Jackson’s 2012 suspension. It is unknown at this time whether the team will receive an additional credit for Jackson’s 2013 suspension (or Christian Thompson’s 2013 suspension).
The final adjustment won’t be known until right around March 11th. This adjustment is a combination of the unearned 2013 Likely To Be Earned (LTBE) incentives and the earned 2013 Not Likely To Be Earned (NLTBE) incentives. This adjustment is necessary because the LTBE incentives for 2013 counted against the 2013 Cap and if unearned are credited back to the team in 2014. Conversely, 2013 NLTBE incentives didn’t count against the 2013 Cap, but if earned, are charged to the team in 2014. So, the net of these adjustments will either operate as a credit or charge against the 2014 Cap.
The Ravens have never included a lot of incentives in their contracts, so any adjustment – positive or negative – will likely be relatively minor.
PROJECTED ADJUSTED TEAM CAP AND SALARY CAP COMMITMENT
Based on all of the above, it is estimated that the Ravens will have an adjusted Team Salary Cap of $134.029M, pending the disclosure of the incentives adjustment. The team’s adjusted Cap consists of the projected league Salary Cap of $133M, plus the carryover of the 2013 excess Cap space of just over $1.531M, less adjustments for workout bonuses, plus or minus the incentives adjustment.
As of the beginning of the league year on March 11th, the league’s Salary Cap is governed by the “Rule of 51”. This CBA mandate dictates that during the offseason, when rosters can swell to 90 players, only the highest 51 Salary Cap numbers (and all 2014 bonus prorations and all dead money from released players) count towards the Salary Cap.
So, after assigning the above ERFA and RFA tenders (depending on whether the RFAs actually receive tenders), but prior to the team making any other roster moves (release, trades, restructures), the team would enter the 2014 league year with a “Rule of 51” Salary Cap commitment of somewhere between $112.647-114.669M.
As such, the Ravens will have somewhere in the vicinity of $19.360-21.382M in Salary Cap space heading into the free agent period.
This number may be affected by the re-signing of a pending free agent or two or some of the following:
RELEASE OF A PLAYER
The Ravens have already released FB Vonta Leach and LB Jameel McClain. At this time, it does not appear that they will be releasing anyone else. However, the below chart lays out the Salary Cap implications of the release (or trade) of some other Ravens players who have been thought of as possibly being at risk of being released:
As the above chart shows there are different implications to releasing a player prior to June 1 and after June 1. Releasing the player before June 1 allows the player to be fully cleared off the books immediately, by taking the enter hit of dead money (the acceleration of bonus money from signing bonuses) in the present year. This generally makes for a smaller amount of Cap savings, but also keeps the release from having any Cap implications in the following season.
Releasing a player after June 1 (or using a June 1 designation on a release prior to June 1), allows for a more sizeable Cap savings, but pushing dead money onto the following year’s Cap. More importantly, though, any Cap savings realized from a post-June 1 release (or a June 1 designation release) is not available until after June 1, so there’s no benefit to such a release in March, when the money is generally needed to sign or re-sign players to build your roster.
It is also important to note that any player released with a post-June 1 designation must be on the team’s initial roster as of March 11th.
RESTRUCTURE/EXTENSION: It appears that the contract extension for LB Terrell Suggs is the only contract adjustment that the Ravens will be doing at this time. There was some discussion of a restructure of CB Lardarius Webb, but the unexpected, sizeable increase in the Salary Cap likely makes any such thought moot. There was also discussion of a possible contract extension for DT Haloti Ngata, but with 2 years remaining on his contract, such a maneuver would likely be difficult to pull off.
Two other players who may be in line for extension – WR Torrey Smith and CB Jimmy Smith – are likely to have to wait until the summer to see any movement towards an extension. In both cases, the player’s Cap number would likely increase with an extension, so teams generally don’t focus on those kinds of extension until after the team has essentially assembled its roster and has a handle on the amount of excess Cap space available for the remainder of the year.
OUTLOOK: When compared to recent seasons, the Ravens are actually in very good Cap shape. Still, they do have a lot of pending free agents like OT Eugene Monroe, WR Jacoby Jones, LB Daryl Smith and CB Corey Graham. The team would likely want to retain most of those guys, but will have to pick and choose amongst them, so to leave enough Cap space to address other areas of need.
Given the amount of Cap space, though, it appears that the Ravens have positioned themselves to possibly make a major splash in free agency. GM Ozzie Newsome will likely still hold firm to his “right player, right price” mantra, but the unexpected rise in the league-wide Salary Cap may also afford him the chance to play the free agent market a little more aggressively than in the past.