CUTS: Unlike last year when the Baltimore Ravens surprised just about everyone when they released TE Todd Heap, WR Derrick Mason and DT Kelly Gregg, there aren’t expected to be any surprise cuts this year. The cuts that are expected have pretty much been common knowledge since the 2011 season ended in the AFC Championship game.
The first of those cuts to be reported is the release of CB Chris Carr. Signed just last August to a new 4-year contract, Carr spent most of the 2011 season on the bench due to injuries and the emergence of CBs Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams. Now fourth on the depth chart, Carr’s $2.5M base salary and $3.45M Cap number were likely just too much for the team to justify.
What hasn’t yet been reported is just how the team plans to handle Carr’s release. They have two options:
1. Outright release him now and only save $600K against this year’s Cap (with no future Cap ramifications) or
2. Use one of their two “June 1” exemptions (as allowed by the CBA) that allows them to release Carr now, but receive June 1 Cap treatment of his release – i.e., $2.5M Cap savings for this year, but $1.9M in dead money carried over onto the 2013 Cap. The use of this exemption is really of no benefit to the team, as they still have to carry Carr’s Cap number until June 1, but does allow the player to hit the FA market immediately, at a time when the FA money and jobs are still in abundance.
The guess here is that the Ravens will do the later and use one of their June 1 exemptions on Carr. While teams would rather not carry over an dead money from one year to the next, the amount of $1.9M is rather insignificant as far as dead money goes (the team is currently carrying close to $5M in dead money on this year’s Cap due to releases last year) and the team really could use that additional Cap space after June 1 when the team starts to sign its draft picks.
FOXWORTH: The next likely cut is CB Domonique Foxworth. This one also comes as no surprise as Foxworth has played in only 2 games over the last 2 years. In the last year of his 4-year contract, Foxworth is due a base salary of $5.6M and carries a hefty Cap number of $8.6M. He’s not going to see that money and his release will create an additional $5.6M in Cap space for the team.
As an aside, the NFL Network’s Jason LaCanfora has speculated that Foxworth may be kept around at a lower salary if his knee has progressed well enough. This speculation truthfully makes no sense for two reasons: (1) until he proves to be totally healthy, the Ravens aren’t going to keep him around and run the risk of having to put him on IR at some later date (and have their Cap charged for whatever salary he is due); and (2) the CBA prohibits the team from reducing his base salary by that much (assuming the team would only want him back at a minimum base salary).
If the team was truly inclined to give him another chance, they would still release him and look to re-sign him to a minimum deal later, once he’s proven his health. Otherwise, LaCanfora’s speculation appears to be totally baseless.
EVANS: The other player reported to be on the chopping block is WR Lee Evans. Evans arrived in Baltimore with great promise to be a solid No. 2 receiver and the consistent deep threat that QB Joe Flacco and the Ravens’ offense had been missing. Instead, injuries and inconsistency plagued him all year. Evans, also in the final year of his contract, is due a base salary of $3.275M and a roster bonus of $1M due on March 18th. He’ll be gone before then. His release will save the team another $4.275M against the Cap.
CAP SPACE: The Ravens currently have 44 players under contract for a total Salary Cap commitment of $116.315M. This number does not include the 7 EFAs and 4 RFAs that the team will need to tender by March 13th (although, Matt Lawrence may not receive a RFA tender).
Recent reports have the 2012 Salary Cap being set very close to the $120M that it was last year, which isn’t particularly helpful to the Ravens. However, the Ravens will be able to carry over $6.18M in excess Salary Cap space from last year and borrow $1.5M from future Salary Caps to increase their adjusted Cap. These amount, along with the savings from the releases of the 3 players above and the retirement of Ricky Williams will give the Ravens approximately $11.25M in Salary Cap space heading into the FA period (with $2.5M more coming in June) This, of course, is prior to using the $7.7M Franchise Tag on RB Ray Rice.