JEFFERSON AND TUCKER RESTRUCTURE CONTRACTS
On Saturday, Field Yates of EPSN reported that the Ravens had completed contract restructures with Safety Tony Jefferson and PK Justin Tucker. These restructures are the 3rd and 4th time the Ravens have restructured a contract since early August. Jefferson’s and Tucker’s restructures were preceded by CB Jimmy Smith in August and DT Brandon Williams less than 2 weeks ago as the team has dealt with a tight Salary Cap and an ever-growing list of injured players.
Jefferson ($3M) and Tucker ($2.8M) reduced their base salaries down to $775K each and had the balance of their base salaries (15/17th in this case, since the restructure was accomplished after Week 2 of the NFL season) turned into a Signing Bonus. The Signing Bonuses, $1,963,236 for Jefferson and $1,786,764 for Tucker, helped the team create an additional $2,663,603 in much-needed Cap space. Prior to the restructures, the Ravens only had a little over $1.4M in Salary Cap space.
The Ravens’ acute need for Cap space had been brought on by the continuing spate of injuries that have hit the team again this season. The Ravens are currently carrying 81 players on their Cap (53-man roster, 16 on IR, 10 on PS) after only the 3rd week of the season. That number is five more than the next closest team and 10 above the league average for IR’d players. As a comparison, the Ravens ended the 2016 season with “only” 80 players counting against the Cap.
They’ve now already surpassed that.
Jefferson’s restructure will add $490,809 to his Cap numbers in each of the 3 remaining years of his contract (2018-2020) and Tucker’s restructure will add 4595,588 to his Cap numbers in each of the 2 remaining years of his contract (2018-2019).
Taken separately, neither of these restructures are of great impact to the team’s future Cap and neither represents much of a risk of accumulating dead money, since it’s highly likely that both Jefferson and Tucker will finish out their present contracts with the team. However, taken in tandem with each other and with the 2 earlier restructures, the silver lining that was once a much rosier 2018 Cap picture is quickly eroding.
ARRINGTON RECEIVES INJURY PROTECTION BENEFIT
As has been explained in this space since the Spring, former Raven CB Kyle Arrington was entitled to, and would likely claim, the Injury Protection Benefit since he was still unable to be cleared from the concussion protocol after suffering a concussion in training camp last year. This benefit, which only started counting against a team’s Cap in 2016, allows veteran players who are unable to continue to play due to injury to basically receive a reduced amount for the season (or two) after they are released due to a career-ending injury.
This week, as expected, Arrington’s $1.05M Injury Protection Benefit hit the NFLPA’s Salary Cap reports. The team had surely already accounted for this, but the timing of its inclusion by the NFLPA just underscores how tight the team’s Cap had become prior to the recent restructures.
Last week, DB Lardarius Webb expressed surprise that he already had 2 interceptions and explained that he was not really expecting to see much playing time when he re-signed with the Ravens in April. At that time, the plan was for Webb to be a back-up Safety, with talented 2nd year CB Tavon Young, manning the slot Cornerback spot. But, injuries to Young and back-up Maurice Canady propelled Webb into the starting slot spot and much more playing time.
In fact, the 2 interceptions have already earned Webb some extra money via incentives and the greatly increased playing time will very likely make him some more. Webb’s new contract called for a modest $900K base salary (basically, the veteran minimum for a player with his time of service), but included up to $1.4M in incentives that could be earned if Webb met various statistical and playing time thresholds. One of those was interceptions, by which Webb would earn up to a maximum of $400K in incentives if he had 2 interceptions ($200K), 3 interceptions ($300K) or 4 or more interceptions ($400K). Webb’s deal also includes $500K worth of incentives for sacks, fumble recoveries, interception return yards, and punt return yards. Lastly, the deal includes $500K worth of incentives that are based on playing time (20%, 30%, 40%, 50%) with team statistical qualifiers. So, if the Ravens D increases its team ranking in either sacks or points allowed and Webb meets the playing time thresholds, Webb will earn the additional incentives.
At this point, through 3 games, Webb has played 70% of the defensive snaps and the Ravens have improved in the 2 team statistical rankings categories, so if the Webb stays healthy and his playing time stays pretty constant, he will earn the full $500K in playing time incentives.
All of these incentives are categorized as Not Likely to Be Earned Incentives (NLTBE) incentives and thus do not count against the 2017 Cap. However, all incentives that are earned by Webb this year will count as a debit against the team’s 2018 Cap. This, of course, will further erode the team’s 2018 Cap space.
PRESENT CAP SPACE
After the restructures, the Ravens are now $4.067M under the Salary Cap. Even with the crazy amount of injuries that have hit the team, that amount should be ample enough to survive the remainder of the season. If the Ravens have any of that left over, they will be able to carry that excess over into 2018.