A couple of news items of interest and/or worthy of comment:
1. RAVENS FRANCHISE TERRELL SUGGS: Last week, the Ravens were forced to apply the Franchise Tag to Terrell Suggs in order to keep him from hitting the Free Agent market. As a sign of how serious they are about seeing that Suggs remains a Raven, they have reportedly (via ESPN) used the “exclusive” Franchise Tag. This version of the Franchise Tag prohibits other teams from even negotiating with Suggs and it usually costs more than the standard Franchise Tag. However, in Suggs’ case, since he is being Franchised for the second straight year and by rule is to make 120% of last year’s salary, it’s not likely to cost the team any more money than the $10.17M he is due under the lesser version of the Franchise Tag.
With Suggs retained for next year, though, the Ravens still must get a long term deal worked out and quickly because he is taking up so much of their available Cap space. A new long term deal will likely allow the Ravens to open up approximately $3-5M in Cap space. That is Cap space that will go a long way to allowing them to retain some of their other pending Free Agents.
Without a new deal for Suggs, the team will not have the Cap space necessary to make those moves, without releasing a couple of players and/or restructuring some contracts to create addition Salary Cap space.
2. RAY LEWIS’ CONTINUED FLIRTATION WITH OTHER ORGANIZATIONS: To put in simply – it’s getting old. It seems that Lewis is getting some bad advise (or isn’t listening) because he seems to be intent on burning much of the capital that he has built up with the Ravens’ fan base. Obviously, no one will ever question what Ray means to the team, the city and the fans, but one of his biggest allies in getting his big deal is a Ravens fan base which by and large, wants to see him re-signed.
But, when stories keep popping up of Ray’s desires to play elsewhere, that usually doesn’t play particularly well with the hometown fans, especially when you want public sentiment – and fan base pressure – to be in your favor. It’s understandable to want to create interest in your services to try and maximize your value, but that can easily be done without offending a fan base that has been loyal to you for 13 years.
Personally, as hard as it is to say, if Ray’s demands don’t start coming down substantially – and quickly, at that – I’m coming more and more around to the idea that the Ravens may just be better off re-signing Bart Scott for the money that they’ve offered Ray. On a 5-year deal, Scott would be a better long-term investment and would still be younger than Ray is now by the end of the deal.
It’s hard to think of the Ravens without Ray Lewis, but that time will come at some point anyway, and it seems that Ray has already envisioned himself without the Ravens.
3. BRANDON MCKINNEY RECENTLY SIGNED A 3-YEAR DEAL TO STAY WITH THE RAVENS: The deal will pay him $3.6M in base salary over the length of the deal. No bonus information has been disclosed, but given the base salaries, it’s likely that there was little or no bonus.
This deal, coupled with the $1M one-year deal recently given to Dwan Edwards, has got to have Marques Douglas a little worried. Douglas, who was acquired via a trade from Tampa Bay last year, has no dead money attached to his present deal, so if released, his entire base salary of $2.4M would be rebated against the Cap. With a lot of work ahead of them and limited Cap space with Suggs being held under the Franchise Tender, that $2.4M could be quite helpful (and necessary). Plus, removing a player from the interior defensive line rotation is a relatively safe more given the team’s depth at the position.
4. WILL SAMARI ROLLE REMAIN WITH THE RAVENS? Several media reports have indicated that Cornerback Samari Rolle may either retire or be released. Last week, Mike Preston of The Baltimore Sun indicated that Rolle’s agent would be meeting with Ravens’ brass at the Scouting Combine over this past weekend. Reports that Rolle is considering retirement appear to contradict his statement in December that he planned to return, but perhaps he had a change of heart. On the other hand, if the team was simply going to release him, there would be no need for the team to meet with his representatives at the Combine.
So, the guess here is that the Ravens will be asking Rolle to take a pay cut from his $4.1M base salary since he no longer appears to be able to stay healthy enough to be an every down starter.
It’s also possible that the Ravens will wait this one out for awhile as they look at a Free Agent cornerback or two.
Along with Rolle and Douglas, other players that could potentially be released or asked to take a pay cut are Cornerback Frank Walker ($1.6M in Cap savings) and Offensive Tackle Willie Anderson ($2.9M).
5. SALARY CAP SPACE: With Suggs now tendered and Brandon McKinney and Derrick Martin now re-signed, the Ravens are now estimated to have just under $8M in available Salary Cap space heading into the Free Agent period.