With today’s news that Terrell Suggs, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, may miss the entire 2012 season due to an Achilles injury, many are left wondering – what impact this will have on the Ravens’ Salary Cap?
The Cap implications will hinge on the extent of Suggs’ injury and exactly how the Ravens choose to address Suggs’ roster status.
If Suggs’ own comments are to be believed, he expects to be ready to return in October or November. If that’s the case, the Ravens have 3 options:
· 53-man Roster: If his return to practice is expected before the 6th week of the NFL season, they could choose to carry him on their 53-man roster. This, of course, would come at the expense of another player, but would allow him to return as early as possible. If he is carried on the 53-man roster, Suggs will still get paid his base salary and he will continue to fully count at $11.52M against the Cap.
· Physically Unable To Perform (PUP): If Suggs is not expected to be able to return to practice until at least the 6th week of the season, the team could place him on the PUP list. Suggs would not be able to practice with the team for those six weeks, but could start practicing then and would need to be added to the 53-man roster by week 9. If on PUP, Suggs would still get paid and still continue to count fully against the Salary Cap, but would not count towards the 53-man roster until activated from PUP.
· Non-Football Injury List (NFI): The Ravens could place Suggs on the NFI list, which basically is the same as the PUP list, but with one major exception – while on NFI, Suggs would not get paid his base salary. As such, at least initially, his entire $4.9M in base salary would be removed from the team’s Salary Cap. The team would, however, need to reserve enough Cap space to accommodate his return, assuming he is activated from NFI at some point. Suggs is set to make $4.9M in base salary for 2012, so for each week that he’s on NFI, he would lose $288K. So, at a minimum, Suggs would lose $1.729M for the 6 weeks that he must be on NFI. That would be Cap space that the team would be certain to have available from placing Suggs on NFI. They would likely have to reserve the other $3.171M in Cap space pending his return.
If Suggs in unable to return by week 9, the team could leave him on NFI for the remainder of the season or place him on IR. If he was placed on IR, he would then be entitled to receive the balance of his base salary. If he remains on NFI, he would not receive any of his base salary. The team would then have excess Cap space that they could use for injury replacements or carry over into 2013.
If Suggs is lost for the season, the Ravens have two options:
· Injured Reserve (IR): By placing Suggs on IR, they are ending his season. If on IR, Suggs is entitled to his full salary and his present Cap number of $11.52M (the highest on the team) will continue to count against the Cap.
The NFL Competition Committee did consider changing this rule to allow one player to be able to return from IR at some point during the season, but Committee tabled that proposal.
· Non-Football Injury List (NFI): If Suggs is lost for the season, the team does still have the option of placing him on NFI. So, if the team wants to play hardball with him, they could do so. He wouldn’t get paid any of his base salary and the team would get a credit of $4.9M against the Salary Cap.
This is something that the team would have to consider – especially if reports of his injury happening while playing basketball, an activity prohibited by his contract, are true – but such a move will certainly not be viewed as “player-friendly”, something the Ravens have always prided themselves on.
So, the Ravens may have some tough decisions to make over the next couple months and next week’s appointment with the specialist will go a long way toward determining the team’s course of action.