A little over 2 weeks ago, we took our first crack at projecting where the Ravens’ Salary Cap would stand as of the first week of the season.
Since then, the Ravens have lost TE Dennis Pitta to a hip injury, have signed a back-up TE to replace Pitta and have re-signed FB Vonta Leach. Those moves have left the team with $4,384,459 in Salary Cap space under the Rule of 51.
Once the season starts, however, all players – those on the 53-man rosters, Injured Reserve (IR), Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) and the Practice Squad (PS) – must be accounted for within the team’s Salary Cap. Once those players are added in, the $4,384,459 in present Cap space will be greatly reduced.
In order to try and project the team’s season opening Cap space, it first takes a projected roster. For illustration purposes, the following is a guess (this week’s) at the Ravens season opening roster:
“LOCKS” – 39 (with Cap Number):
QB (2): Flacco ($6.8M), TTaylor ($581,327)
RB (4): Rice ($5.75M), Pierce ($618,986), Leach ($1.47M), Juszczyk ($480,146)
WR (3): TSmith ($924,336), JJones ($4.9M), Doss ($658,140)
TE (1): Dickson ($1.323M)
OL (6): McKinnie ($2.5M), Osemele ($760,425), Gradkowski ($601,106), Yanda ($7.45M), Oher ($4.955M), Wagner ($441,140)
DL (6): Ngata ($11.5M), AJones ($2.023M), Canty ($1,506,666), Spears ($1.2M), McPhee ($591,140), BWilliams ($533,750)
LB (7): Suggs ($13.02M), Dumervil ($2.5M), McClain ($4.2M), ABrown ($646,224), DSmith ($1.125M), Upshaw ($1,203,795), Simon ($501,413)
CB (4): Webb ($5,385M), JSmith ($2,035,009), Graham ($2.65M), CBrown ($591,140)
S (3): Elam ($1,230,364), Huff ($1.35M), Ihedigbo ($620K),
ST (3): Tucker ($480K), Koch ($2.5M), Cox ($755K)
PROJECTED BALANCE OF ROSTER – 14 – with (Cap Number; Dead Money if released):
RB (1): Allen ($555K; $0)
WR (2): DReed ($880K; $250K), DThompson ($480,133; $133)
TE (2): Shiancoe ($555K; 0), Bajema ($555K; $0)
OL (2): Shipley ($480K; $0), Reid ($695,810; $140,810)
DL (2): Cody ($280K; $910K), Tyson ($491,898; $11,898)
LB (2): McClellan ($555K; $0), Bynes ($480K; $0)
CB (2): Anthony ($416,474, $11,474), Lee ($405K, $0)
S (1): OBrown ($480K)
PUP/IR: (3) Kapron-Lewis ($427,058; $22,058), Pitta ($2.023M), Jensen ($425K)
Practice Squad (8): 8 players x $6000/per week x 17 weeks = $816K
NOTE: S Christian Thompson is suspended for the first 4 games on the season. He does not count toward the roster or against the Cap until he is reinstated.
NOTE: CB Asa Jackson has been suspended for the first 8 games of the season. He does not count toward the roster or against the Cap until he is reinstated.
So, for the purposes of this illustration, and understanding that there is likely little chance that this will be the actual final roster, the above roster would leave the Ravens with $2,631,410 in Salary Cap space.
This estimate does not, however, account for the inevitable Training Camp injuries that will lead to players being placed on IR. Once that happens, the injured player will continue to count against the team’s Salary Cap and the player signed to replace him will be added to the Cap and reduce the projected $2,631,410 in Cap space.
Again, the above roster was just a best guess. Players who didn’t make the above list, but may make the team are as follows:
ROSTER POSSIBILITIES – (with Dead Money due to release; Cap number if makes team):
QB: Hanie ($0; $555K)
RB: Rainey ($0; $480K), Berry ($0; $405K)
WR: Mellett ($11,474; $416,474), LWilliams ($168; $555,168)
TE: Furstenburg ($3,333; $408,333)
OL: Harewood ($320K; $800K), Mims ($0; $480K), Cornell ($0; $405K), Devey ($3,333; $408,333), Gaines ($3,000; $408K)
DL: Pericak ($4,500; $409,500)
LB: Hall ($0; $480K), Hamilton ($0; $405K), Carr ($0; $405K)
CB: CJohnson ($35K, $620K)
S: Levine ($0; $405K)
So, if any of the above players made the final roster in place of a player on one of the first two lists, his Cap number will replace the Cap number of the player not making the team and his dead money will be replaced by the dead money from the player not making the team.
If, on the other hand, the player makes the team due to another player being placed on IR, then the new players Cap number will be added to the team’s Cap, while his dead money will be removed from the Cap.
So, as you can see, injuries have already altered the team’s projected Cap space and further injuries could, in fact, leave the team with little or no remaining Cap space. If the Ravens do end up getting too close to the Salary Cap limit, they would have to consider restructuring the contract of a player or two in order to create the necessary Cap space.
The other big variable at this time is the status of LB Jameel McClain, who appears to be destined to start the season on PUP. If that comes to fruition, then the cost of the player that takes his spot on the roster will further erode the team’s available Cap space.
If necessary, the Ravens also have the option of releasing McClain with a “failed physical” designation, thereby creating $3M in Cap space (less the cost of the player that ultimately replaces him on the roster). This would create a decent amount of Cap space and provide the team with the necessary Cap cushion to carry into the season.
The bottom line, though, is regardless of whether it comes from McClain or elsewhere (via a restructure), the Ravens are likely to be very close to the Salary Cap limit and very well may have to be find a way to create Cap space at some point during, or before, the season.