Manufacturing Cap Space
Currently the Ravens sit at $11.1M under the cap according to RSR’s capologist Brian McFarland. And that number places a pair of loose handcuffs on GM Eric DeCosta. But that doesn’t mean the team can’t get creative to uncover more cap space without sacrificing long-term cap flexibility.
One simple solution would be to restructure Marcus Peters’ deal which would provide roughly $6M in cap relief. Converting salary into bonus pushes some of the cap burden towards the back-end of the three-year extension but of course, the Ravens would have to deal with a slighted bloated cap number for Peters in future years. But given the three-time Pro Bowler’s productivity, the expense of his position and Peters’ reasonable age (he’s currently 27), that shouldn’t be a deterrent to such a move.
The Ravens could also agree to long-term deals with Ronnie Stanley and Matt Judon to reduce their cap numbers. Again, according to McFarland, the Ravens could manufacture another $3-6M in cap space with new deals for each of these coveted players. More than likely, Stanley is waiting on Laremy Tunsil and the Houston Texans to strike a new deal.
According to Aaron Wilson from the Houston Chronicle, the Texans have offered Tunsil a deal that averages $18.5M per year and that would set a new standard for offensive tackles in the NFL. Tunsil’s camp is seeking a deal in the $19-20M per year range and the bet here is that the former Dolphin, best known for his draft day bong antics, will win this faceoff. They have all the leverage given what Bill O’Brien gave up to land Tunsil – a pair of first-rounders (2020 and 2021) and a 2021 second-round pick.
Once the dust on that new deal settles, look for Stanley to one up Tunsil, again, with a bigger deal. The Ravens love Stanley and they want him as an offensive cornerstone for many years to come. Per DeCosta:
“Ronnie’s got a really skilled agent, and we’ve talked quite a bit. We’ll meet again this week. We love Ronnie. He played his butt off this year — All-Pro left tackle. We’re excited about that, excited about his future, excited about the player and excited about the person.”
As for Judon, the Ravens OLB has hinted on Twitter that a new deal (perhaps 4 years) is in the making with the Ravens.
This year the next one and the year after that and one more after that
— Matthew Judon (@man_dammn) March 20, 2020
If the Peters, Stanley and Judon deals happen, DeCosta’s checkbook swells by $12-18M in newfound cap space, depending upon the structure of deals and that would pave the way to other deals post-COVID-19.
We’ve often heard it said that sometimes the best deal is the deal you don’t make. And that very well may be the case with Michael Brockers and Ndamukong Suh as it relates to the Ravens. Brockers’ deal caved due to medical concerns and Suh opted to stay in Tampa and give it a go with Tom Brady in the state income tax free State of Florida. All of it led to Derek Wolfe.
During Wolfe’s conference call with the media last week, the former Bronco shared a few interesting tidbits:
• Following what was described as a “great” pre-draft visit with the Ravens in 2012, Wolfe thought that he would eventually land in Baltimore. With the 35th pick in that 2012 draft the Ravens selected Courtney Upshaw. One pick later the Broncos turned in the card for Wolfe.
• During the 2019 season, Wolfe pondered asking John Elway to trade him to Baltimore.
• When the Brockers deal fell through, Wolfe instructed his agent to get him to Baltimore and not to let money be an object.
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out for the Ravens. That said, it will be interesting to compare and contrast the seasons of Messrs. Wolfe, Brockers and Suh in 2020.
When all is said and done, relatively speaking, the Ravens may have fallen into the steal of the offseason.