After 7 Moves This Week, Ravens' New Salary-Cap Outlook
It was an under-the-radar week in terms of new signings, but it was a buuuusy week nonetheless. And there's still some cash available to make more (modest) moves.
Hours before the new league year and free agency opened on March 10, the Ravens were in the hole in terms of salary-cap space. But a Terrell Suggs contract restructure and a Haloti Ngata trade cleared more than $10 million.
General Manager Ozzie Newsome wasn't about to blow that money on a big free-agent splash. Instead, he has creatively, smartly and frugally put those savings to use with signings that haven't gotten much buzz in football world.
Newsome is quietly building the Ravens roster, making seven moves this week (five signings, one cut and one contract restructure).
Let's take a look at those moves, their financial impact, and the new outlook of the 2015 salary cap, according to the records of Spotrac.com:
CB Lardarius Webb
Restructured final three years of previous 6-year contract; signed new 3-year, $21 million deal
2015 Cap Hit: $12 million -----> $9 million
2016 Cap Hit: $12 million -----> $9 million
2017 Cap Hit: $10.5 million -----> $9 million
Annual $7 million base salary ranks No. 19 (tied) among NFL corners
RB Bernard Pierce
Waived by Baltimore, claimed by Jacksonville
2015 Dead Money: $138,986
2015 Net Cap Relief: relieved of $660,000 salary, but net cap savings is $150,000 because of Rule 51
DE Lawrence Guy
Signed a 2-year, $2.3 million contract
2015 Cap Hit: TBD
LS Morgan Cox
Signed a 1-year, $825k contract
2015 Cap Hit: $665,000
Annual $825,000 base salary ranks No. 25 among NFL long snappers
DE Chris Canty
Signed a 2-year, $4.65 million contract
2015 Cap Hit: $1.75 million
S Kendrick Lewis
Signed a 3-year, $5.4 million contract
2015 Cap Hit: $1.27 million
Annual $1.8 million base salary ranks No. 46 among NFL safeties
DT Christo Bilukidi
Signed a 2-year, $1.5 million contract
2015 Cap Hit: $700,000
RB Justin Forsett (signing was last week)
Signed a 3-year, $9 million contract
2015 Cap Hit: $1.6 million
Annual $3 million base salary ranks No. 20 (tied) among NFL running backs
Spotrac predicted cap space (with Top 51): $9 million
Spotrac predicted cap space (with Top 51 & projected draft pool): $4.3 million
Who's Left On Tight End Market?
The Ravens may want to put some of that money into the tight end position, where they still don't have a healthy starter.
ESPN's Jamison Hensley gave his top-4 best available list:
1. Jermaine Gresham (Bengals)
"The most productive tight end is still on the market because he is scheduled for surgery Thursday for a herniated disc."
2. Rob Housler (Cardinals)
"Teams have to determine whether he's a career underachiever or he's been vastly underused."
3. Zach Miller (Seahawks)
"Health is a concern. Miller missed 13 games last season and he's recovering from his second ankle surgery in less than a year."
4. James Casey (Eagles)
"This is another case where teams have to figure out whether Casey was underused by the Eagles or simply done."*
Pierce Ended Up In Better Position
Yesterday, we examined how Pierce would look back on his career and wonder what might have been. He had the chance to be the Ravens' starter, but Forsett beat him out and signed a long-term contact while Pierce was cut after a DUI arrest Wednesday morning.
Today, it looks like Pierce is in a better position than he was in Baltimore.
Pierce was claimed off waivers by the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that finished No. 21 in NFL rushing last year. They need help at the running back position, and now Pierce has another shot at becoming a starter competing with Toby Gerhart and Denard Robinson.
In Baltimore, Pierce was presumed to be a bubble player in training camp, falling behind Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro on the depth chart. Plus, the Ravens are expected to draft a running back in April.
"[S]trangely enough, [the release] might have put him in a better position to make a team," wrote Hensley. "You can make an argument that the Ravens did Pierce a favor by releasing him and allowing him to get picked up by a team with a more unsettled running back situation."
Just hours before it was announced that the Jags would claim Pierce, he tweeted, "God works in mysterious ways."
2009 Draft Do-Over Keeps Oher With Ravens
If the Ravens had to do it all over again, would they still select Michael Oher with their No. 23 overall pick in the 2009 draft?
EPSN's Mel Kiper thinks they would.
The Ravens moved up in the draft to get Oher, but he didn't live up to fan expectations. Baltimore allowed Oher to walk in free agency after his rookie contract expired, but he never missed a start during his five years with the Ravens.
"Oher will be playing for his third franchise in 2015, as the Panthers will give him a chance to handle left tackle," Kiper wrote. "While he has started 91 NFL games, Oher has mostly hovered in the range of serviceable, and has never reached star status, something that was probably unfairly assumed for him after he became such a big literary and Hollywood subject.
"But he has been healthy and, in the context of draft reality, I'd never call him a letdown."
Kiper obviously liked many of the Ravens' picks in 2009.
He gave Oher, linebacker Paul Kruger (second round) and cornerback Lardarius Webb (third round) all first-round grades. Webb went to the Colts at No. 27 and Kruger went to the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 32.
- Ron Borges, a Hall of Fame voter and Boston Herald writer, made a Hall of Fame case for Gene "Big Daddy" Lipscomb. Lipscomb was a three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle for the Baltimore Colts from the 1950s and early '60s. [Talk of Fame Sports Network]