Is Jason Babin a fit for the Baltimore Ravens?

When the Philadelphia Eagles unexpectedly released DE Jason Babin yesterday, rumors immediately began to swirl around Baltimore that the Ravens might possibly be interested in acquiring the pass rusher who has tallied the 3rd most sacks in the NFL since 2010 (including 18 in 2011).

While Babin is more of a 4-3 DE and while the Ravens’ pass rush has seemed to rebound with the return of LB Terrell Suggs, the team could still probably use a guy like Babin, even if just as a situational pass rusher.

Since the 2012 trade deadline has now passed, all players are subject to waivers when released and teams have until 4:00 today to place a waiver claim on Babin. Any team that acquires Babin via waivers is on the hook for the remainder of Babin’s 2012 base salary (5/17th of his $5.575M salary = $1.64M) and the remaining 3 years of his contract – $4.325M (2013), $6.175M (2014) and $6.15M (2015). However, with no guaranteed money remaining due to be paid, any team acquiring Babin could release him after this season with no adverse Salary Cap implications.

For the Ravens, though, if they are truly interested, a waiver claim will not work because they do not have enough 2013 Salary Cap space to accommodate the remainder of Babin’s 2012 salary. The Ravens presently have just about $1M in available Cap space and would be unable to take on the remaining $1.64M due Babin.

Of course, if the Ravens were truly interested, they could always restructure a contract to create some additional Cap space, but this late in the year that is pretty difficult to do because a restructure of the remaining amount due on a yearly salary is quite small for most players.

There’s also a question of why the Eagles released Babin – after just signing him 2 years ago – and who made that decision.

If it was made by Andy Reid and there is some sort of team chemistry issue at play, then it’s likely that John Harbaugh’s connection to the Eagles would lead the Ravens to pass on Babin. On the other hand, if the decision was from above – and Reid is still high on Babin, despite his sagging sack numbers this year (5.5 sacks) – then the Ravens may be satisfied that a change of scenery will be good for Babin.

If no one places a waiver claim on Babin, then he would become a Free Agent and would be free to negotiate a new contract with any team interested. In that case, the Ravens chances of acquiring Babin would increase because it is likely that Babin would only be looking to sign a deal for the remainder of the year, so that he can maximize his value on the Free Agent market next Spring.

Babin has reportedly stated that he would like to go to a winning team with a shot at the Super Bowl and the Ravens certainly fit that bill. The biggest hindrance for the Ravens, though, would still be money. With so little Cap space available – and with Babin likely only wanting a deal for the rest of the year – the Ravens simply may not have enough money to offer, and there very well may be other teams that can offer a similar shot at the Super Bowl – Atlanta, Green Bay, Denver, New England – that can – and will – offer him more money.

So, yes, the Ravens have a shot, but it appears to be a long shot at this point.

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