Salary Cap Q&A – Pro Bowl, Wagner & More

Salary Cap Salary Cap Q&A – Pro Bowl, Wagner & More

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Q. Question about the Pro Bowl. Some players have a clause in their contract if they are selected for the Pro Bowl they get a set amount bonus. How does that work for a guy like Eric Weddle who was 2nd or 3rd alternate?? Does he get his bonus?? Does the money come out of this year’s cap or next year’s cap??

ANSWER:  Not all players have Pro Bowl bonuses (technically, an incentive), but if they do, only players initially elected to the Pro Bowl are entitled to receive a Pro Bowl bonus.  Players who make the team as alternates (like Safety Eric Weddle and Center Jeremy Zuttah) after another player has declined to play in the Pro Bowl, do not receive any Pro Bowl incentive they might have.

Whether and when a Pro Bowl incentive counts against the Cap depends on whether the player would have earned that incentive in the prior season.  If the player went to the Pro Bowl the prior year (again, earning that berth as part of the initial naming of the team), then the incentive is deemed to be LTBE (“likely to be earned”) and counts on the present year’s Cap.  If the incentive is not earned, the team receives a credit in that amount against the following year’s Cap.  On the other hand, if the player did not earn a Pro Bowl berth the prior year, the incentive is considered to be NLTBE (“not likely to be earned”) and does not count against the present year’s Cap.  If earned, the incentive becomes a negative adjustment on the follow year’s Cap and the player’s following year Pro Bowl incentive becomes LTBE.

Q. If the rumors about the very high market values of Brandon Williams and Rick Wagner are true what are the chances that they will be able to keep both, keep one or lose both?

Q. If a choice has to be made between Wagner and Williams, who gets the higher priority?

ANSWER:  Prior to Assistant GM Eric DeCosta’s recent comments about the team’s “need” to re-sign Williams, I would have expected Wagner to be their primary target, especially since DeCosta also expressed a desire to have a strong offensive line.  But, DeCosta’s comments about Williams weren’t the usual “we’d like to keep Brandon, but you never know where the market will go” or “we’d like to keep Brandon, but we only have so much Cap space” like we’ve often heard in the past when they’ve expressed interest in re-signing a player, but also knew they were going to be outbid.

So, based on that, I’m going to now say that Williams clearly looks like their primary re-sign target, which I believe greatly reduces the chances that Wagner returns.  The Ravens are likely to be in relatively decent Cap shape (depending on what moves they do make before free agency, see below), so they’ll likely have enough money to re-sign one of the two, but it would be out of the ordinary for them to re-sign two players to top of the market deal.  I would expect both Williams and Wagner to receive sizeable deals.

Q. What do you think the Ravens should do with Dennis Pitta and Ben Watson considering their contracts?

ANSWER:  With 4 younger TEs already under contract for 2017 (even though all 4 come with various degrees of warts of their own) – and with the team likely looking to find ways to create Cap space – I just can’t see both Pitta and Watson returning at their current Cap numbers.  I believe that at least one of them will be released, and it’s even possible that both could be released.  In the last year of his 2-year deal, releasing Watson would save the Ravens $3M in Cap space.  Releasing Pitta would save $3.3M if released prior to June 1st or $5.5M if released after June 1st (or prior, with one of the team’s two post-June 1 exemptions), but that would push $2.2M in dead money onto the 2018 Cap.

Pitta would also be a potential candidate for a pay cut, given what seems to be a strong attachment to the team and his close friendship with Joe Flacco.  But, Pitta took a $4M pay cut last spring (he was able to earn $3M of that back through incentives) and it remains to be seen if he would be willing to do so again.

As was the case last year, Pitta would likely only accept a pay cut if he was able to earn some – or most – of that money back via incentives.  In order to make that work, the team would again need to use NLTBE incentives (so that they would not count against the 2017 Cap and thereby reduce his 2017 Cap number), but since Pitta played in all 16 games and caught 86 passes this past season, crafting incentives that would remain NLTBE and still be realistically attainable for Pitta is going to be a much more difficult task this time around.

Q. If the plan was to cut the obvious contract except Terrell Suggs and Lardarius Webb (Kyle Arrington, Doom, etc.) what would your savings be?

Q. If we cut Elvis Dumervil, Webb, Pitta, Kendrick Lewis, and do not sign Williams and Wagner, how much room would we have to sign a top-shelf corner?

ANSWER:  The below chart lists “the usual suspects” when it comes to players whose releases have been debated over the past couple of months.  The numbers indicate that the Ravens could create significant Salary Cap space depending on how far the front office wants to go.  Releasing all 9 players listed would create a gross Cap savings of over $33M.  After accounting for the Rule of 51 replacements (~$500K each) for each player released, that would create a net Cap savings of around $28.5M.

Salary Cap table.

That’s not to say that the Ravens will release all nine, but when you add that to the roughly $6.5M the Ravens are projected to start free agency with (depending on RFA tenders), it’s clear that the Ravens could create substantial Salary Cap space if they want to.

Q. Do practice squad payouts end when a team’s season ends? And with Futures contracts? can and have we signed anyone off our PS so far since our season is ended?

ANSWER:  Yes, the contracts of PS players end immediately after the last game of the team’s season.  To date, the Ravens have signed 9 players to 2017 “future” contracts.  Of those 9, 7 (WR Kenny Bell, G Jerrell Broxton, CB Robertson Daniel, RB Stephen Houston, G Jerrod Pughsley, C Matt Skura and QB Dustin Vaughan) were on the Ravens’ PS at the end of the 2016 season.  The 2 PS players who weren’t re-signed are DE Kapron Lewis-Moore (signed with Chicago) and CB Sam Brown (still unsigned).

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Brian McFarland

About Brian McFarland

Known on Ravens Message Boards as "B-more Ravor", Brian is a life-long Baltimorean and an avid fan of the Ravens and all Baltimore sports. A PSL holder since 1998, Brian has garnered a reputation as a cap-guru because of his strange (actually warped) desire to wade through the intricacies of the NFL's salary cap and actually make sense of it for those of us who view it as inviting as IRS Tax Code. Brian, who hails from Catonsville, MD and still resides there, is married and has two children. More from Brian McFarland

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