I met a guy, randomly, this weekend in South Carolina and when I found out he was from Baltimore and also a Ravens fan, we both instantly looked at each other and said “In Ozzie We Trust!” (Coincidentally, today is Ozzie’s birthday – Happy Birthday, Wizard of Oz!)
The Ravens had just signed wide receiver Steve Smith and it was one of those contracts that just makes you wonder how Ozzie does it. Before Smith could go meet with New England, Seattle or other potential suitors, the Ravens signed him to a three-year, $11.5-million contract with a $3.5-million signing bonus. It breaks down to this… Smith is scheduled to receive his signing bonus plus a $1 million base salary in 2014 for a total of $4.5 million; he’ll receive $3 million in 2015; and $3 million in 2016 plus a $1 million option bonus if he plays 60% of the snaps. Those are great numbers for a top-notch wide receiver.
Earlier in the day, Ozzie re-signed a key member of the Ravens defense, in Daryl Smith, to a four-year, $16.1-million contract. Once again, it’s a good contract for the Ravens and their cap situation.
Prior to signing Smith and Smith, the Ravens also re-signed Jacoby Jones to another very cap-friendly deal. According to our own cap guru Brian McFarland, Jones has base salaries of $1M in 2014 and $2.5M in 2015, 2016 & 2017. His signing bonus would be $3.5M, so he should only have a 2014 Cap number of $1.875M.
Don’t forget the Ravens also re-signed Terrell Suggs and Dennis Pitta this offseason. Ozzie is simply a genius when it comes to signing players and staying under the cap. He was willing to let Eugene Monroe walk and test the market, because he did not want to pay him $11.654 million, which is what he would have made if the Ravens had used the Franchise Tag on him. Ozzie surveyed the land and saw he had a chance to re-sign him for less. Since then, the Ravens have signed not only Monroe, but Jones, D. Smith, S. Smith, Albert McClellan and Jeromy Miles all to contracts for a total of just $11.595 million… that’s six players for less than what the Franchise Tag would have been for Monroe (per Brian McFarland).
That is why Ozzie Newsome is simply the best in the business. After all the work that he has done this week alone in filling some major holes for the team, the Ravens are still about $9 million under the Salary Cap. That’s plenty of cap space left to right a right tackle, a safety, and maybe another O-line guy.
I think they can get a crucial right tackle from free agency at the start of training camp, as they’ve done before on the last round of veteran cuts. They might also find a safety there. More than likely, you’ll see the Ravens draft a wide receiver, running back, secondary help and offensive line guys.
Heck, they might even find another lead blocker for their backs. It appears on old friend wants to come “home”.
No I'm not from bmore but I know that I can be more. Man grinding… When ya back is against the wall what u gonna do?? #sweater
— Le'Ron McClain (@LeRon_McClain33) March 14, 2014
It’s crazy to think that right before free agency started, the Ravens had several priorities… so far nearly all of them have been taken care of. Re-signing their own guys was important… Monroe and Daryl Smith were crucial. Strengthening the wide receiver position was key, and Jones and Smith will help.
If I had to rate the first week of the new NFL year for the Ravens, I would give it an A. The only way it would have been better would have been to keep Arthur Jones, but they just didn’t have the resources to pay him what he was worth. But I have no doubt the Ozzie and his staff will find another late-round gem to fill in the holes. Plus, they will want their young guys to be the “next man up,” whether it be Arthur Brown, DeAngelo Tyson, Chykie Brown, or Asa Jackson.
While many in Baltimore don’t agree with trading away Anquan Boldin for a 6th round pick, Ozzie continues to prove year in and year out why he truly is a Hall-of-Fame General Manager, and why so many believe in the theory of “In Ozzie We Trust”.