The NFL salary cap is a very tricky thing. Teams live and die by it and one slip up could spell doom for years to come. Some teams go to extreme lengths and hire personnel whose job it is to study the cap and come up with scenarios year-to-year of what players the team could field based on their cap numbers. There are already players who can be considered unemployed because of this monster. Each team has to evaluate their players in the off season and determine whether or not they are worth the money they are being paid. The Ravens are no exception to this, so let’s take a look at some players that could end up on the street when all is said and done.
McClain’s time is probably up as a Raven. As much as I like the guy and the inspirational stories that keep coming out of him, he is being paid way too much for his production level. McClain is set to have a cap hit of 4.4 million in 2014, but if cut; the Ravens will only have to eat 1.2 million of that. McClain was sidelined for 10 months after a spinal cord injury, and in that time a combination of Josh Bynes and Arthur Brown filled the hole that was left. Bynes is another feel good story, like McClain, whose production level is very similar to McClain’s and gets paid a lot less, only a 480,000 dollar cap hit in 2014. Brown was a second round pick last year who the Ravens are banking on to turn into a great player. As a rookie, it was very clear that Brown was a rookie, he was smaller and looked lost sometimes on the field, but he’s one of the players with a good possibility of a breakout season. Let’s also not forget that Brown is still on his rookie contract and will only cost the Ravens around 800,000 against the cap in 2014.
DL Haloti Ngata
Scheduled to have the biggest cap hit against the Ravens in 2014, it really shouldn’t be surprising to hear Ngata’s name come up, especially with his decrease in production the past few season. Ngata recorded his lowest sack and tackle total in 2014 (1.5 sacks and 23 tackles) since his 2009 season (1.5 sacks and 26 tackles) and while being paid 16 million dollars for that kind of production may seem asinine to some, cutting him doesn’t make much sense. Ngata’s 16 million against the Ravens cap in 2014 only shrinks down to 15 million if cut, so the question comes down to: Is it worth one million dollars to dump him? With the possibility of him having a bounce back season and becoming a terror in the trenches, in my book the answer is simple: no.
Also, I would really miss his ridiculous commercials.
P Sam Koch
Let’s face it, paying a punter 2.8 million dollars is not how you make it in today’s NFL. That being said, you could argue punting is the most important aspect of the game as it’s how you can control the other team’s field position. This is a peculiar position for the Ravens; Sam’s stats have never blown you out of the water, but they have been consistent year-to-year, but given the number of problems teams had with their punting in 2013, you could argue his value has increased. The Ravens would save 1.6 million if Koch was cut, but that happening is really hard to tell and it comes down if the Ravens like a punter enough to take him in the draft.
Oh boy, I can hear the fans yelling at me through their computer screens already. As much as I like Suggs, he does make A LOT of money for unguaranteed results. The former AP Defensive Player of the Year is set to make a whopping 12.4 million in 2014, the third highest cap hit on the Ravens. Normally I wouldn’t think of putting Suggs on a list like this, but with the sheer amount of pass rushers the Ravens have in Elvis Dumervil and Pernell McPhee, he almost becomes expendable, almost. Suggs still recorded 10 sacks in 2013, and has the ability to put 14 sacks and 7 forced fumbles like he did in 2011. Even though the Ravens could save 7.8 million against the cap by cutting Suggs, his output and leadership qualities would be hard to replace. I think he’s safe for now.
FB Vonta Leach
For a guy the Ravens barely use, I really don’t understand giving the guy a 2 year, 3.75 million dollar contract. Just like last year, Leach may be on the chopping block, scheduled to make 2.33 million in 2014, that number could be cut down to 580,000 if he does get the axe. The only reason I can see him staying around is because of the Ravens’ new Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak. Kubiak knows Leach from their days with the Texans and Kubiak’s offensive system uses the fullback a lot more that Jim Caldwell’s did. Even then, it’s hard to give Leach that money when the Ravens drafted H-Back Kyle Juszczyk last year. I honestly don’t see him stick around, as much as I love the ‘LEEEAAAAACH’ chants.
(Note: I only broke down the players that would save the Ravens millions towards the cap. There are plenty of small moves that they can make that also saves tons of money.)