We are likely to have the following contracts off the books:
Ray Lewis ($4.35 million cap savings from 2012)
Matt Birk ($2.75 million savings----although I'm not as sure as some here that this is a given)
Ed Reed ($9.6 million cap savings)
Bobbie Williams ($1.2 million cap savings)
Bryant McKinnie ($4.2 savings)
Cary Williams ( $1.9 million...i am operating under the assumption that he won't re-sign with us, which is less than a 10% chance IMO)
Right there, between those six players, there is $24 million. That seems significant, but not when you look at the salary increases ahead for the roster.
Note: There are other veterans on the roster who are unlikely to be back (Bajema, Kemoeatu, Ighedibo, Chris Johnson, Considine). However, I don't think they factor too much into the equation because their salaries ($540k to $700k) are really not significantly higher than if a rookie replaces them next year. I'm going to consider their cap savings to be essentially a wash.
So what does that $24 million really save us this offseason??
Ray Rice's cap # increases 750k
Marshall Yanda's cap # increases $3.8 million
Sam Koch's increases $300k
Haloti Ngata's increase is $1.1
Terrell Sugg's increase is $1.5
Jimmy Smith's increase is roughly $350k
Pollard's increase is $1.3
Oher's is roughly $800k
Jacoby Jones' cap # goes up $3.3 million
Corey Graham goes up $1.1 (still a good value at $2.4 million though)
Webb goes up $2.7 million
So, right there by my math, our cap is set to go up $17 million just right there. So suddenly that $24 million no longer looks so good.
Also, when you factor in the incrimental increases to all our drafted players (Upshaw $260k, Torrey Smith $150k Osemele $150k) that has a small impact. There are also a ton of players scheduled to get a $90k raise this year (Justin Tucker, Bobby Rainey, Deonte Thompson, Omar Brown, Gradkowski, Asa Jackson, Chykie Brown, Pernell McPhee, Jah Reid, Bernard Pierce, Josh Bynes, Mount Cody, Tommy Streeter, Adrian Hamilton, Deangelo Tyson, Bryan Hall). I'm not sure the impact of those $90k increases as much will depend on who they replace and how many of them make the 2013 team, but I'm going to safely estimate that between all the players above, including 2nd rounders Upshaw, Smith, and Osemele, that takes another $1.5 of available money away from the cap.
So now we are down to $5.5 million...and we haven't even gotten to the upcoming Restricted FAs. I'm not sure what the Ravens will do with David Reed or Ramon Harewood or Morgan Cox (probably low or no tenders), but the other four players who are eligible (Pitta, Dickson, McClellan and Art Jones) are all ultra-valuable contributors and will certainly be tendered. I would imagine Pitta, Jones, and McClellan would get a 2nd round tender and get the $1.9 million contract. Round-of-draft tenders are far too risky for any of those 3. Dickson I would guess would get the round-of-draft tender at $1.3 million (I can't imagine anyone giving up a 3rd rounder for Dickson).
That means the following increases:
$1.4 for McClellan
$1.4 for Jones
$1.3 for Pitta
$500k for Dickson.
So there is another $4.6 million off the cap space, which means we have $900k in available cap space.
Now, in truth, it's more than that because I haven't calculated Flacco, Ellerbe, and Kruger yet. All will be UFAs and, in theory, if all 3 left, it would free up another $10.5 million. However, let's try to structure this in a way that we can keep all three.
Flacco is making $8 million in 2012. Let's assume we can work out a long-term deal with him in the $13-$15 million range. Let's also assume that we structure the deal so that his cap # in 2013 only goes up $1 million. Now we are dealing with a $100k deficit.
Kruger is making $800k. Let's assume he gets a raise into the $5 million/year range (roughly where I expect him to be). Let's assume the Ravens give him a small starting salary and a nice signing bonus and his 2013 cap # is around $3.5. That's a 2.7 raise and puts us $2.8 over the cap.
Ellerbe is making $1.9 million. Let's assume he signs in the $4-4.5 range. Again, let's assume his first-year cap # is around $3 million. That's a $1.1 increase and puts us $3.9 over the cap.
Let's assume that we cut Boldin, and I think it's a given that he won't be back at his current pay rate---a cut/re-signing might be the more viable option. That saves us $6 million. Now we are $2.1 on the good side.
Let's also assume that we cut Jameel McCLain. That saves us $3 million and we are now $5.1 on the plus side.
That $5.1 million leaves us very limited room to do anything in free agency. First off, note that the $5.1 million doesn't include any potential rookie salary upgrades if we were happen to get an extra 2nd or 3rd rounder somewhere during the draft. Secondly, it basically gives us room for one good free agent or two decent ones.
Now if we would cut Jacoby, that frees up another $4 million, which would put us $9.1 million under the cap. That could give us room to re-sign Boldin and still have $5-6 million to improve the roster elsewhere.
I think in summary it is possible to keep Ellerbe and Kruger, but only at the expense of some combination of Jacoby/Quan/Jameel or potentially all three. The only other possible cuts that would make any salary cap sense are Sam Koch (highly unlikely since it's only a $1 million savings) and Leach ( $3 million savings)
If you are expecting big waves in Free Agency, even after Lewis' retirement, that's unrealistic. However, Lewis' retirement did help the 2013 cap a good bit, but it is hardly a huge opening to bring in other FAs. It likely just allows us to keep/retain one out of Jones/Boldin/McClain/Kruger/Ellerbe that we would have lost or had to cut otherwise.
And if you think 2013 is bad, wait until 2014 when the Ravens will have Oher, Pitta, McClellan, Art Jones, Graham, Jacoby (if not cut), Boldin (if not cut) and Leach all become FAs and Ngata, Webb, Rice, and Flacco will all have cap-crippling raises that year too. This is why it's so hard to have 5 straight playoff appearances in today's NFL.
You have to keep in mind, Elland, that the Ravens of a history of seeing their bench players/swing starters get starter-caliber money with other franchises. If they want to compete for his services next year, they are going to need to pay him competitively.
Also, I must edit my earlier posts. If we cut, McClain, I believe our cap savings would only be $1.8 million, since we would be on the hook for $2.4 in dead money versus his $4.2 salary for 2013. However, we would be free of any contractual obligation as of 2014. That worsens the situation.
His ability in pass coverage is what gives him a huge boost. I wouldn't throw the kitchen sink at him but im definatly fine with paying him a good ammount. Him beside a rookie would look okay with Suggs and Upshaw/Kruger (pass downs) on the outside
You may believe Ellerbe is a more talented than McClain.. and you may be rigth.
Is he also a better leader? More dependable? More durable? + deadmoney (McClain),
Is Ellerbe the leader we need year 0 after Ray.. Ellerbe who have had two dissapointing seasons 2010-2011, and then he is performing better on a defense ranked 17th in yards and 12th in score.
And then you are telling me 8-10 teams wants him.. If that is so I do believe his agent will tell him to do what Cary W. is doing, decline Ravens offer and ask for more.
Let me argue back that I'm not sure that the Ravens are hosting a playoff game in 2.5 days if not for Ellerbe this year. I'm not sure they make the playoffs in fact. You can argue that he was our 4th best defensive player this past year behind Ngata, Pollard, and Kruger. Ellerbe possesses a level of play that McClain doesn't. I wouldn't call him a great LB, but he was well above average for the bulk of the time he saw the field this past year. We saw flashes of it as a rookie, and then it went into hibernation for two years, and this year it returned. I'd much rather roll the dice on his abilities than accept the mediocrity of McClain.
I think Josh Bynes, an undrafted 2nd year player who was on the practice squad less than two months ago, has played significantly better than McClain did at any point this past year. McClain can't cover anyone on passing downs, doesn't make any splash plays, and misses far too many tackles in comparison with the amount he makes. I think he's a great human, but as a linebacker, he is a backup-caliber MLB in my opinion. Ellerbe is starter-caliber and even above-average starter-caliber at times. That's why I'd prefer to keep him. You can find Jameel McClains fairly easily, but finding someone who can play like Ellerbe has this past year is a far tougher task.
Ellerbe is a bigger risk for sure, but if you want to win a Super Bowl, you need to gamble on guys like Ellerbe. Jameel McClain just isn't the type of MLB who can lead a defense to a championship without having great contributions from those around him. Ellerbe has shown enough these past 3 months to make me think he has that type of potential that McClain lacks.
Guess I'm not the only one who think if we go into next year with our current crop of ILB's were in trouble. Sorry but we need to resign Ellerbe, AND use a high draft pick on a immediate contributor there. Cut McClain if needed, although with all his cap numbers ad dead money you might as well leave him on the squad if next year is less dead money to cut him, or we have more space.
Edit: Guess I should've put. Need to resign Ellerbe at no more than wha McClain got. Period. If he wants more than he can go elsewhere, but I doubt teams are gonna be linning up to throw more money at him. Not as a one year wonder.
Ellerbe, Kruger surprisingly, art jones recently, pollard, Graham recently.
No one has dominated the length of the season, pollard has had poor stretches as well. But every game ellerbe was fit, he was our best player, without a doubt in my mind.
Coming from a guy who would have cut bait with him this past offseason. He's been a great player this year. I just hope it's not the looming contract has out that fire in his belly
You could argue that Ellerbe has been our best and I'd mildly disagree, but I don't think you are wrong by any means. Same with Pollard. He's been consistent, but probably has had a few more down moments than Ellerbe. Heck, you can even argue that Cary Williams has been our best defender this year mainly because he's been the only one of our starters who has been healthy and contributed all year. After a rough stretch in games 2-3, he turned in a very consistent season at a position where consistency was critical.
For my money, I'd still go with Ngata as the defensive MVP. He's had a bad year by his standards, but the bar was so friggin high that even a down year, he was still our most dominant defender....although that's not saying a whole lot this year.
I don't think the market is there for Ellerbe.
Last year, perhaps due to circumstance, solid young IlB'ers were plentiful and cheap. Players like David Hawethorne, Stephen Tulloch, Curtis Lofton, and McLain all sat around and had some visits, but it was not a market in demand.
Kruger and Williams however, will get multiple offers onthe first day of FA in my opionion.
Because of that, I think Ellerbe can be retained reasonably. THe other two, IMO cannot.
Most guys say they want to stay a Raven...
It's all about the money they want. I'm sure Bart Scott wanted to remain a Raven...to the tune of a buttload of money, which we wanted to pay Ray instead.
Good to know, but I wouldn't expect any hometown discount.
I do agree that Kruger is a much higher priority than Ellerbe. If we have to pay to keep him at the expense of keeping Ellerbe, so be it.
ILB is much much different. McClain is nothing special. It's obvious we're gonna have to invest a high draft pick into the position. Ellerbe is needed to stick alongside whatever rookie we draft. McClain is there for depth along with Bynes and McClellan(although McClellan has shown he can provide depth at OLB also).
Sorry I just don't see the money vs value there. We can go draft a 4th or 5th rounder that can do what Kruger does. Thats a few hundred grand vs a couple mill.