Ravens Shock Media, Inside Osemele Offer
Whelp, nobody in the media expected this.
Kelechi Osemele was written off as another drafted Raven that priced himself out of Baltimore. And maybe, ultimately, he still will. But the Ravens making him a "really aggressive" offer to entice him to stay was unexpected.
"This is a surprising development," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
"I admittedly wasn’t expecting this from them," tweeted Baltimore Examiner's Samuel Njoku.
"The offer] [represents a departure of sorts from the organization's usual free-agent strategy of sitting back and allowing its own unrestricted free agents to test their value on the open market," added The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
I admit, I didn't see it coming either. That's because the Ravens reportedly have the second-least amount of cap space in the NFL, and even though he hasn't been on the field often, they still have Eugene Monroe.
So what does this "really aggressive" offer look like?
Head Coach John Harbaugh didn't get into the details, but according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, the offer would make Osemele the second-highest paid offensive player behind quarterback Joe Flacco.
Guess who is the second-highest right now? Interestingly, Monroe, whose spot Osemele would presumably take if he accepts a deal with the Ravens.
While Monroe has the most overall money with a reported $37.5 million over five years, right guard Marshal Yanda actually makes the most per season at just under $8 million annually ($32 million over four years).
"Osemele, one of the top pending free-agent offensive linemen, now figures to top [$8 million per year]," wrote Zrebiec.
By how much Osemele will top that number could determine whether he stays in Baltimore. Top-10 left tackle money usually starts at about $9 million per year.
Count Harbaugh as one who is crossing his fingers that K.O. agrees to the deal, but Harbaugh also knows this is a business and wouldn't be surprised if Osemele's agent is shopping the Ravens' offer around the league to see if anyone will offer more.
"It would be surprising at this point if Osemele opts to eschew free agency altogether," wrote Zrebiec.
You certainly couldn't blame Osemele for testing free-agent waters when the market opens on March 9. Will there be a higher bid, and if so, will it be enough to leave a partnership with the Ravens behind? The Ravens are trying to make it hard for him to pass them up.
"I hope he says, 'You know what? I know what the Ravens are all about. I know they believed in me. I know what kind of football they want to play and I feel like I'm a part of this thing for a long time like Marshal Yanda's done,'" said Harbaugh.
Osemele's Decision Will Have MAJOR Ripple Effect
The Osemele decision to accept or reject the Ravens' offer will have major ripple effects that could shape not only this offseason, but the franchise for years to come.
"It’s] [hard to overestimate significance of Osemele decision," tweeted Zrebiec.
Let's look at the franchise if Osemele accepts:
First, the Ravens would likely trade or cut Monroe. Zrebiec sees a post-June 1 cut, creating $6.5 million in cap space. Second, you can take selecting a left tackle with the No. 6 overall pick out of the equation and the Ravens could focus on another position of need like pass rusher or cornerback.
If Osemele passes:
The Ravens will most likely keep Monroe on the roster, hoping he will be healthy and on the field. And, there would be a decent chance that GM Ozzie Newsome would consider taking Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Staley in the first round, who could become a franchise player for the next decade.
How Can Ravens Afford All This?
The Ravens certainly aren't talking like a team that has the second-least amount of cap space in the NFL.
- Newsome said the Ravens can be "very active" without restructuring Flacco's deal.
- He also said that Lardarius Webb's reported $10 million cap hit is perfectly fine where it is even with his move from cornerback to safety.
- The Ravens have made a big offer to Osemele.
Where will the Ravens get all this money?
"We have cap room this year, believe it or not," Harbaugh said. "There's more flexibility in our cap this year than we've had. This year, from a coaching standpoint, we're in a better position to do business than we have in the past. I'm excited about that."
Moves will still have to be made, however.
First, the Flacco restructure is still expected by media to happen, and it could create up to $9 million in cap space this year. Even Harbaugh said he'd be "surprised" if it wasn't. The meeting between the Ravens and Joe Linta is scheduled for today.
Second, if Osemele is signed, $6.5 million will be reportedly created by Monroe's presumed post-June 1 cut.
Third, they could make a litany of cuts to lower-paid players that could add up to several million in cap space.
"The Ravens have several veterans that are candidates to be let go in cost-cutting moves, including Monroe, tight end Dennis Pitta, defensive end Chris Canty, middle linebacker Daryl Smith, cornerback Kyle Arrington and safety Kendrick Lewis," wrote Zrebiec.
Ravens Won't Get Hometown Discount From Suggs
One area where you shouldn't expect to create cap space – not that anybody was – is with Terrell Suggs.
Suggs pushed money down the road last year for the Ravens, but that won't happen again.
"I don't foresee any hometown discounts here or Suggs having any inclination to re-do his deal again to facilitate his return to the only team he has ever played for," wrote CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora. "Even at his age and even coming off a season-ending injury, there is too much need for pass rushers and not enough supply."
Suggs is scheduled to make $4.5 million in base salary ($7.45 million cap hit), and La Canfora says the Pro Bowl outside linebacker could make more than that on the open market on a short-term deal. The reporter pointed to a team like Arizona, who is in a win-now mode, who would pay big money for a pass rusher like Suggs, even if he is coming off Achilles tendon surgery.
La Canfora's report made it seem like parting ways with Suggs was at least a consideration – something we haven't heard of locally – but he ultimately sees Sizzle staying.
"If the Ravens do retain Terrell Suggs, it's going to be at full price," he wrote.
"How much they get out of their aging pass-rushing duo remains to be seen, but the market realities and lack of other options might be enough to drive them to continue to find out, while knowing they must find some alternatives to develop through the draft as well. Taking either pass rusher's temperature in terms of a pay cut will likely get them nowhere, however."
No Downside To Trent Richardson Signing
Harbaugh announced the Ravens are in talks to sign running back Trent Richardson, a former No. 3 overall pick that has been out of the league for a year.
There's really no downside to the signing, but some fans on social media didn't like the idea of bringing him to Baltimore given his sharp decline.