Analysts Name Seven Potential Ravens Salary-Cap Casualties
Every year, every NFL team has to go through the painful process of evaluating their salary cap to identify where additional space can be found.
This year, the Ravens are in no different circumstance as the team has only about $11 million in cap space heading into free agency, per Overthecap.com.
The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec and Russell Street Report’s Brian McFarland each independently went through the roster and salary cap and pinpointed where they think the Ravens can create room.
Below are seven of their salary-cap casualty candidates. The salary-cap information comes from McFarland and I reference Zrebiec's analysis on each player.
Obviously, these are their opinions and don't necessarily reflect what Baltimore's brain trust is thinking.
CB Brandon Carr, 31 years old
2018 cap hit: $7 million
Savings if released prior to June 1: $4 million
Dead money if released prior to June 1: $3 million
The Ravens greatly improved their cornerback depth last year, which was a major boon down the stretch of the season, but injuries took a bite out of that depth. Jimmy Smith and Jaylen Hill will be rehabbing all offseason, and it's unclear how Tavon Young will look as he returns from knee surgery.
Zrebiec: "This could be the Ravens' toughest call. …. The Ravens would leave themselves extremely thin at corner by jettisoning Carr. Plus, the veteran had a solid season when not matched up with star receivers, and his durability and leadership are two qualities the Ravens need."
RT Austin Howard, 30
2018 cap hit: $5 million
Savings if released prior to June 1: $3 million
Dead money if released prior to June 1: $2 million
Outside of moderate cap savings, one may ask why you'd release Howard after he started all 16 games last season. He was one of the few consistent pieces on the offensive line despite being new to the group after signing a three-year deal last season. There's also no surefire replacement at this point.
Zrebiec: "[The Ravens] don't have a starting-caliber replacement for the big right tackle on the roster, unless they plan to shift guard Alex Lewis outside. Howard would seemingly be in jeopardy if the Ravens take an offensive tackle early in April's draft."
WR Jeremy Maclin, 29
2018 cap hit: $7.5 million
Savings if released prior to June 1: $5 million
Dead money if released prior to June 1: $2.5 million
The Ravens considered themselves fortunate when Maclin became available after the Kansas City Chiefs surprisingly released him late last offseason. He signed a two-year deal with the Ravens, but caught just 40 balls for 440 yards and three touchdowns. He dealt with various injuries all season long and wasn't available in the Week 17 playoff-crushing loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Zrebiec: "[I]t appears that Maclin will be one-and-done with the Ravens. … Making the release of the 29-year-old even more likely is the fact that it will create $5 million of salary-cap room and accelerate the offseason overhaul of the team's receiving corps."
LB Albert McClellan, 31
2018 cap hit: $1.25 million
Savings if released prior to June 1: $1.25 million
Dead money if released prior to June 1: $200,000
McClellan could've won the starting linebacker position next to C.J. Mosley, but suffered a season-ending knee injury prior to the season. His absence was felt on special teams too, but coordinator Jerry Rosburg was able to coach up developing players.
Zrebiec: "The Ravens would only save a little over $1 million by letting one of their longest-tenured players go, but they're always looking to get younger at certain spots and they had a few of their rookies emerge on special teams this past season."
WR Breshad Perriman
2018 cap hit: $2.769 million
Savings if released prior to June 1: $1.622 million
Dead money if released prior to June 1: $1.148 million
The Ravens wouldn't save much money by releasing the 2015 first-round selection, but Head Coach John Harbaugh said at his season-review press conference that Perriman "will have to earn his stripes." That suggests Perriman will have to earn his roster spot during the offseason and training camp.
Zrebiec: "The Ravens will almost certainly decline Perriman's fifth-year option for 2019 this offseason, but could they consider cutting him before training camp even begins? Given the state of their receiving corps and their willingness to give a former first-round draft pick every chance to contribute, it's probably unlikely."
2018 cap hit: $2.55 million
Savings if released prior to June 1: $1.75 million
Dead money if released prior to June 1: $800,000
Webb made it clear that he knows his Ravens career is nearing its end; he just hopes it's not this year. "I'm going to play until they kick me out," he said earlier this month as players cleaned out their lockers. "I enjoy playing." Webb took a pay cut in 2015 to remain with the team, and then re-signed with them in 2017 after being cut.
Zrebiec: "Webb started the regular season as the Ravens' top slot corner after Tavon Young and Maurice Canady both went down with knee injuries during summer workouts. However, his role was reduced significantly after Canady returned from injured reserve. Safeties Anthony Levine Sr. and Chuck Clark also took on expanded roles in the slot."
RB Danny Woodhead
2018 cap hit: $3.3 million
Savings if released prior to June 1: $1.8 million
Dead money if released prior to June 1: $1.5 million
The Ravens signed Woodhead to a three-year deal last March, but he essentially missed the first 10 weeks after suffering a hamstring injury on the first offensive series of the season. He finished with 33 catches for 200 yards and 14 carries for 56 yards.
Zrebiec: "It wasn't the return the Ravens hoped for when they signed him to a three-year, $8.8 million deal in March. He turns 33 later this month and he has a significant injury history. The Ravens would save less than $2 million by releasing him, but the presence of Alex Collins, Buck Allen and Kenneth Dixon on the roster could make Woodhead expendable."
Ravens' Top Executives Meeting at Steve Bisciotti's Home
It appears the Ravens' annual gathering at Owner Steve Bisciotti’s home in Jupiter, Fl. is happening this week, according to The Sun.
It's the time when the team's top executives will conduct a similar exercise we just went through above, plus will outline all the offseason goals.
In the past, that meeting has included Bisciotti, General Manager Ozzie Newsome, Harbaugh, Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta, President Dick Cass and Senior Vice President of Football Administration Pat Moriarty.
"The meeting usually lasts about two days and includes a review of the previous season, where the team stands with the salary cap and thorough discussions about several decisions the front office will need to make in the offseason," wrote Zrebiec. "Team officials frequently say the summit provides a blueprint for the offseason."
Steelers Making a Change at Offensive Coordinator Despite No. 3 League Ranking
Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley is out in Pittsburgh.
His contract expired after the 2017 season and a six-year run, and the Steelers have chosen not to re-sign him.
"I have made the decision to not renew the contract for offensive coordinator Todd Haley," Head Coach Mike Tomlin said in a written statement. "I would like to thank Todd for his contributions to our offense the past six years, and we wish him the best in his coaching future."
The news comes after Haley led the Steelers offense to a top-seven ranking in each of the past four years. The unit also scored 42 points Sunday on the NFL's second-ranked defense (Jacksonville Jaguars) in a divisional playoff game.
However, Haley's departure didn't come as a surprise as his relationship with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger clearly wasn't strong. Big Ben frequently implied that in his press gatherings.
Terrell Suggs and Eric Weddle Snubbed From Active Player Hall of Fame Candidate List
NFL.com's Gil Brandt named 11 active players who should be first-ballot Hall of Fame players, but didn't name any Ravens candidates.
Instead, the list included Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson, Drew Brees, Larry Fitzgerald, Aaron Rodgers, Joe Thomas, J.J. Watt, Antonio Brown, Eli Manning, Roethlisberger and Julius Peppers.
All those players certainly deserve mention, but Terrell Suggs and Eric Weddle didn't make the cut, and their teammates noticed.