If the Ravens want to make the “splash” in free agency that Owner Steve Bisciotti talked about this offseason, they’re going to have to clear cap room.
Those discussions took place at Bisciotti’s home in Jupiter, Fla., in January. And now the Ravens are monitoring the market to see what path they’re going to take.
“We have come up with ideas and ways to be able to create the type of cap room that we need to go get the type of players that we want to add at this portion of the season,” General Manager Ozzie Newsome said Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine.
If the salary cap goes up to $178 million this offseason, as reported, the Ravens would have $9.7 million to spend, according to OverTheCap.com. That’s the fifth-least in the NFL.
Every year, teams purge veterans from the roster to create more space. Media members have speculated that wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, cornerback Brandon Carr, offensive tackle Austin Howard and running back Danny Woodhead could be among the Ravens’ chief options.
On Friday, Newsome was asked about Maclin and Carr specifically, and whether he anticipates that they will be back next year.
“We have some decisions that we have to make in the next two weeks,” Newsome said when asked about Maclin. “We have not come to a point where we have decided that, ‘This guy is going to be here and this guy is not.’ But that will occur in the next two weeks.”
Maclin is scheduled to have a $7.5 million cap hit next year. Releasing him would save $5 million, per Spotrac. After being a summer signing last offseason, Maclin dealt with several injuries and posted a career-low 40 receptions for 440 yards and three touchdowns in 12 games played.
It remains to be seen whether Maclin stays, but Newsome was clear that changes are coming at the wide receiver position in Baltimore.
“We’re looking for the opportunity to change that room in terms of personnel and the people that are in that room,” Newsome said. “We’re going to leave no stones unturned.”
The cornerback position is different. Baltimore got solid play from the group overall last year and is in no position to start over. The Ravens have been building depth and want to continue to do so, especially as Jimmy Smith recovers from his Achilles tear.
Carr would have a $7 million cap hit next season. Releasing him would save $4 million. He started all 16 games last season and notched 56 tackles, 12 pass defenses and four interceptions, which tied his career high (2011).
Marlon Humphrey showed he’s ready to become a full-time starter next year, but if Smith isn’t back in time for Week 1, there isn’t another experienced starter on the roster. Signing one in free agency wouldn’t be cheap and the Ravens have other needs early in the draft.
“We have six corners. And based on the last two years, we need six corners. We need all of them,” Newsome said. “Brandon played very well for us. And he’s very, very good in our locker room.”