Where Ravens Spend All Their Cap Money and How It Compares to Other Teams
Every time the Ravens reportedly lost a bidding war for a pass catcher this month because of tight cap space, fans repeated the same question:
Where is all their cap money already being spent?
According to Spotrac.com, the Ravens currently have $9.26 million in cap space remaining, which ranks 24th most in the league.
Many assume quarterback Joe Flacco takes up a chunk of the cap space, and he does with a reported $24.75 million cap hit for 2018. That said, the Ravens have spent the ninth-most money in the league on the quarterback position so far this year, which means other positions also have hefty investments.
Not surprisingly, Baltimore has invested significant more money on defense ($90.29 million, fourth most in the league) than they have on offense ($61.11 million, 31st).
Below is a positional breakdown of the Ravens' cap space, and where it ranks among all 32 NFL teams, according to Spotrac:
Quarterback= $25.23M, ninth most in NFL
Running back = $2.74M, 28th
Fullback = $480K, 19th (only 21 teams have fullbacks)
Wide receiver = $13.69M, 27th
Tight end = $2.77M, 31st
Offensive line = $23.46M, 26th
Defensive line = $17.23M, 28th
Outside linebacker = $13.19M, 14th
Inside linebacker = $13.01M, 6th
Cornerback = $28.54M, 2nd
Safety = $18.32M, 5th
Special teams = $9.74M, 1st
Is the Offensive Line Better Than Last Year?
While speaking with the media from the annual coaches' breakfast at the owners meetings Tuesday, Head Coach John Harbaugh said he feels the offensive line is in better shape than it was last year at this time.
As The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec pointed out, the top seven offensive linemen at this time last year were probably Marshal Yanda, Ronnie Stanley, Alex Lewis, John Urschel, Ryan Jensen, James Hurst and De'Ondre Wesley.
Now, they are Yanda, Stanley, Lewis, Hurst, Matt Skura, Nico Siragusa and Jermaine Eluemunor.
Here's the major difference between then and now: the Ravens know they have five legitimate starters. That's because they saw Skura and Hurst both started last year for an offensive line that excelled. Both may change positions this year, but the Ravens still have five starting-caliber guys.
They only had three they knew could start last year. Hurst, Skura, Jensen, Urschel and Wesley were all still question marks.
When Harbaugh announced, at least initially, Hurst would start at right tackle this year, it concerned fans. He played well at left guard last year, but can he excel outside?
"Some fans … either are hung up on Hurst's past struggles as a fill-in left tackle or haven't forgiven the 2014 undrafted free agent for getting pushed back into quarterback Joe Flacco's knee during the 2015 season," Zrebiec wrote.
"But there are two things worth remembering: One, Hurst is a different player than he was earlier in his career when he was overmatched at times on the edge; and two, just because a player is No. 1 on the depth chart now doesn't mean that's where he'll be in mid-July when the Ravens report for training camp."
Hurst has developed, gotten bigger, stronger and smarter. And, it's still unclear where he'll eventually wind up. The Ravens could also add a rookie first-round tackle in the draft. They could also still add a veteran from the free-agent market.
"Starting spots aren't decided in late March," Zrebiec said. "Harbaugh has always said the team will play the best five offensive linemen. Right now, Hurst is clearly one of the team's five best linemen. That could change, though, in the weeks ahead."
Will Ravens Kick Tires on TE Clive Walford?
The top tight ends are no longer on the market, leaving few options remaining.
A new face is available, however, after the Oakland Raiders released tight end Clive Walford, a former third-round pick.
Walford's production won't get Ravens fans excited. He only had nine catches for 80 yards in 13 games last year. His previous two years were better, putting up about 350 yards and three touchdowns in each.
"Walford has some upside and decent speed, and he wouldn't cost the Ravens a compensatory draft pick to sign," wrote Zrebiec. "Assuming the price is right, I'd have to think the Ravens will at least kick the tires on him."
Benjamin Watson Visited New Orleans Saints
Another tight end still on the market is Benjamin Watson, the Ravens' leader in receptions last year.
After reportedly discussing a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs, Watson is now visiting his former team in the New Orleans Saints.
Watson was with the Saints before signing with the Ravens in 2016. He was coming off the best season of his career when he recorded 74 receptions for 825 yards and six touchdowns.
The Ravens seem intent on moving on from their pass catchers from last year, so it doesn't appear he'd come back at this point. And if he signs elsewhere, it could equate to another compensatory pick.
"With not many quality tight ends still available, Baltimore will likely have to address this need in the upcoming NFL Draft," wrote Baltimore Beatdown's Logan Levy.