The Ravens roster is not overflowing with talent.
While this has been a hindrance on the field, it could work into their favor in the offseason.
Many of the players currently under contract are expendable, which means the Ravens can part ways with some of them to create some cap room and sign a free-agent playmaker for the offense.
One player who could be looking for a new home is wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who never lived up to expectations after signing a two-year deal prior to last season. Maclin had just 40 receptions for 440 yards with three touchdowns. He also battled injuries and missed four games. The Ravens could save about $5 million by parting ways with Maclin. Some of the money could be used to re-sign fellow receiver Mike Wallace, an unrestricted free agent who is a better fit for the team.
Another potential salary-cap casualty could be safety Lardarius Webb, who turned 32 in October. Webb has been a loyal player since the Ravens selected him in the third round (88th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft out of Nichols State in Louisiana. Webb restructured his contract in 2015 and then re-signed with the team last year shortly after being released.
While Webb is a positive influence in the locker room, the Ravens would reportedly save almost $2 million by cutting him. He could be further expendable if Tavon Young is fully recovered from knee surgery and the team adds further depth in the secondary via this year’s NFL Draft.
The Ravens face another tough decision with veteran linebacker and special teams ace Albert McClellan. He suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2017, but is also a positive influence in the locker room and has the respect of his teammates.
McClellan turns 32 in June and the Ravens could create about $1 million in cap space by parting ways with him. McClellan, though, could restructure his contract to stay in Baltimore. He was signed by the Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2010 and has spent his entire career with the franchise.
There has been some speculation the Ravens could release cornerback Brandon Carr, who was signed prior to last season because of his durability. Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome could create an additional $4 million for the free-agent market by releasing him.
Carr, though, lived up to his side of the deal and appeared in all 16 games this season. The uncertainty surrounding fellow cornerback Jimmy Smith and his torn Achilles certainly works in the 31-year-old Carr’s favor to stay with the team.
Running back Danny Woodhead is not in the same enviable position. Woodhead, who was also signed as a free agent prior to last season, appeared in just eight games because of a hamstring injury. Woodhead was productive when he was on the field because of his versatility to catch the ball out of the backfield. The Ravens, though, have solid depth at running back, especially with the emergence of Alex Collins. Parting ways with Woodhead, who turned 33 on Jan. 25, would open about $2 million in cap space. But again, that would be a tough decision because of his upside.
Meanwhile, Ravens coach John Harbaugh wants most of the roster to be around when the team begins offseason workouts. However, the financial realities could inevitably alter that plan.
“I expect everybody back,” Harbaugh said at his season-ending press conference. “As far as the salary cap, the numbers and all those kind of things, those are good questions for the next meeting probably. We’ll decide all those things. I’m encouraged by everybody. There’s not one guy here that I don’t want back because I don’t want them. There’s really nobody like that. I like everybody, and I think they bring something to the table.”
The Ravens, though, need more talent at that table.