The Ravens held their annual season-review press conference Tuesday afternoon, and the team's leadership addressed several of the looming contract questions going into free agency.
With just two weeks until the start of the new league year, the clock is ticking for the Ravens to work out new deals or extensions with key players like Haloti Ngata, Torrey Smith and Justin Forsett.
"We will exhaust every avenue that we have to use and to get as much cap flexibility as we can so that I can hopefully have us set up to move towards the draft with the best football team we can have," General Manager Ozzie Newsome said. "We're working very hard to gain a lot of cap flexibility."
Here were the takeaways from the Ravens brass on contract questions involving 10 key players:
DT Haloti Ngata*Contract situation: Entering final year of his contract, carries a reported $16 million cap hit
"We were successful with Ray [Lewis], we were unsuccessful with Ed [Reed, getting them to retire Ravens]. I put Haloti in that iconic group of players who helped us to get where we are as a franchise," Owner Steve Bisciotti said. "That's Ozzie's job to negotiate the nuances of those contracts that will allow us to get some cap relief and give Haloti a chance to stay here. 28 Twenty-eight teams don't have Royal Farms stores in their areas, so there's some incentive for him to want to stay here."
CB Lardarius WebbContact situation: Three years remaining on his deal, carries a reported $12 million cap hit in 2015
"We want to exhaust every avenue to retain our players," Newsome said. "We like to retain our football players. And we also like to be able to create some cap space."
WR Torrey SmithContract situation: Unrestricted free agent
"We have a history of retaining our players, especially players that have been productive," Newsome said. "We also have a history of allowing our players go out and maximize themselves on the market, and go and play for other teams. Where that lies within Torrey, we'll find out between now and sometime before the opening of the league year."
RB Justin ForsettContract situation: Unrestricted free agent
"He doesn't have the wear and tear. And Justin did a very good job of coming in, competing and then being our bell cow," Newsome said. "We would like to retain Justin. I've learned something since the end of the season that I didn't really know. He has mentored some really good, young backs: Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch and Maurice Jones-Drew when he was in Jacksonville. Having Justin here, and also with the opportunity of us hopefully bringing in another young running back,* *and having Justin around that guy would be an asset. We will work to try to retain Justin."
OLB Pernell McPheeContract situation: Unrestricted free agent
"I think you have to look at it this way: If we were to go after the market on Pernell, how many other players would we not have on the Baltimore Ravens? That's kind of the way we look at this thing," Newsome said. "Will we pay market for some players? Yes. We paid market for Joe [Flacco], Eugene [Monroe], [Marshal] Yanda. But we have to look at it that we can't pay everybody market value because it will hurt our roster overall in trying to retain the other guys that can go out in the market."
TE Owen DanielsContract situation: Unrestricted free agent
"Owen says he wants to come back," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "I'm sure that he and his agent will talk about what's best for them financially and every other way. But he's very interested in coming back here."
DE Chris CantyContract situation: Entering the final year of his contract, considering retirement
"I haven't spoken with Chris since the season was over," Harbaugh said. "I think he was thinking about what his future held, whether he was going to play going forward. I haven't spoken with him about that."
QB Joe FlaccoContract situation: Entering the third year of a $120.6 million contract, reportedly carries a $28.5 million cap hit in 2016
"We not only talk about the current group, but we talk about the years going forward," Newsome said. "We've already addressed that to a certain degree. We've had a chance to look at what 2016 will look like, projecting how many draft choices make our team. But we'll be prepared to deal with Joe at that number when we get there."
CB Jimmy Smith, OG Kelechi OsemeleContract situations: Entering the final season of their rookie contracts.
"We've always felt that the best time to get a fair deal for the player and for the organization is to attack it a year ahead," Newsome said. "So those are some of the guys that we will be talking about going forward."