Rice Grievance May Hurt Ravens in 2015

Salary Cap Rice Grievance May Hurt Ravens in 2015

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Court’s Decision Will Have Major Impact On Ravens Salary Cap Picture

When it comes to the Salary Cap, most teams’ offseasons really don’t begin until the middle of February, when clubs start signing players to extensions, releasing players and/or applying franchise tags.

For the Ravens, though, their Salary Cap offseason begins this Thursday and Friday when the first domino in their Salary Cap puzzle will begin to fall.

Thursday is the first day of Ray Rice’s grievance against the Ravens, in which he is basically claiming that he was wrongfully terminated by the Ravens and that his release constitutes a violation of the CBA’s double jeopardy provision which prohibits two (2) punishments for the same offense. We expect that Rice’s base salary of $3,529,412 is at stake.

This is really the first grievance of its kind, because NFL teams have always had the right to release a player for almost any – or really, no – reason.

Key to Rice’s argument would appear to be that the Ravens supported him and didn’t release him when his legal matter was resolved and he received his initial two (2) game suspension. So, when the team did release him in September, after the 2nd elevator video became public, this constitutes a 2nd penalty, since the Ravens had previously indicated that they weren’t going to release him.

Again, teams have never needed to give a reason for releasing a player and when the grievance was first filed, many questioned just how successful it would be:

There have been plenty of instances of players being suspended and then released or even released before the suspension was actually imposed. In none of those cases was the player ever entitled to any further money from the team (unless there was still future guaranteed salaries involved), so it would appear that the Ravens do have a strong defense. BUT, when it comes to NFL grievances, you never know, and the NFL most certainly doesn’t want to see any precedents set.

If Rice does prevail, the Ravens will owe Rice $3,529,412.

This is quite critical because, if the Ravens owe him the balance of his salary, that amount will count against the Ravens’ Salary Cap. In fact, 40% (as CBA mandated) of the amount claimed by Rice has already counted against the team’s 2014 Cap.

If Rice’s grievance fails, then the Ravens will receive a Cap credit in that amount ($1,411,765) on the team’s 2015 Salary Cap. On the other hand, if Rice’s grievance is successful, the team could owe him as much as $2,117,647 and that amount will act as a reduction of the team’s 2015 Cap.

As explained earlier this week HERE, the team is presently projected to be over the Salary Cap, so adding an additional $2M+ onto the Cap would put the Ravens even further in the hole.

Once the grievance hearing ends on Friday, it may take several weeks before a decision is rendered. This wait will likely make for a long couple of weeks for the Ravens as they begin to plan their offseason and determine what moves they have to make in order to create the Cap space needed to improve their roster.

So, there is very much at stake this week, both for the Ravens (from a Salary Cap standpoint) and the NFL (from a precedent setting perspective).

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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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