The Baltimore Ravens will be faced with several tough decisions this off-season. They have several players who are unrestricted free-agents or are coming up on the final years of their contracts and may be asked to restructure and extend their deals.
The Ravens aren’t known to do a lot of restructuring and Ozzie was quoted as saying it’s a “last resort” in February of 2013.
Newsome says restructuring contracts is a "last resort." Says they would only do it to get a free agent of great value/benefit.— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) February 7, 2013
A year ago the Ravens extended the contract for Terrell Suggs which was set to expire after the 2014 season. Imagine if we were talking about losing Suggs this year. His contract would have been $12.4 million for 2014 but they worked out a win-win deal that cut it down to $7.8 million, keeping him around through 2018. Suggs was “flattered” by the deal and excited, claiming, “I get to be a Raven for life.” Suggs, 32, will be 36 at the end of his current contract.
Now the question is, who can they afford and who can they afford to let go? As well as who can they extend or restructure to get some much needed cap space?
1. WR Torrey Smith, 26, free agent
Torrey Smith is at the end of his rookie contract after his 4th season in the NFL. Although he’s not a true no. 1 receiver, he has been a consistent contributor to the Ravens in those year, including a Super Bowl win in 2012. There have been many opinions about whether or not the Ravens should attempt to re-sign Smith but, as Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun warns, he would not be easily replaced. Smith posted 11 touchdowns (a career-high) with only 767 receiving yards (a career-low) in 2014.
Jason La Canfora also reported that the Ravens offered Torrey a 5-year, $35 million extension before the season but Smith clearly did not accept. This leads many to believe that he wishes to test the free agent market.
The debate will continue until Smith gets paid and he will get paid by someone, even if it’s not the Ravens.
2. Pernell McPhee, 26, free agent
A 5th round pick in 2011, McPhee falls into the category of so many before him that shone on the Ravens defense and play their way into a big contract. He may have played himself off the Ravens roster with a tight salary cap.
Defensive ends and edge linebackers that can stop the run and also pressure quarterbacks are in high demand around the league, just ask guys like Arthur Jones, Jared Johnson and Paul Kruger. McPhee will get a big contract in 2015, most likely not by the Ravens.
3. Haloti Ngata, 31, 1 year remaining
Haloti Ngata is one of the highest paid Ravens on the current roster with a $16 million 2015 cap number (which is 2nd highest of 59 34DE contracts). That being said the Ravens would certainly love to extend or renegotiate the contract to work with the cap.
Here’s to hoping he follows suit with Suggs and extends to become a career Raven.
4. Justin Forsett, 29, free agent
There have been rumors that the 7th year journeyman is interested in heading to Dallas to join the Cowboys. Forsett was very effective for the Ravens under Gary Kubiak’s offense. He played his way into the Pro Bowl and now that his 1-year deal with the Ravens is up, he’ll be looking for much more than his $570k contract in 2014.
What are the options for the Ravens if they chose not to re-sign Forsett? Would they be looking to select yet another RB in the 2015 Draft? One thing is certain, Marc Trestman’s offense requires a running back to catch the ball out of the back field. Taliaferro is more of an up-the-middle, power runner. Pearce is on his final year but has remained a number 2-3 option for the team, not a feature back.
5. Lardarius Webb, 30, 3 years remaining
The Ravens restructured Webb’s contract before the 2014 season but he’s owed $8 million in 2015 and is scheduled to count $12 million against the cap (13th highest of 254 CB contracts). He’s near the top of the Ravens’ highest paid players but, with continued issues with injuries, some feel he is too much of a gamble with those high numbers.
The Baltimore Sun asked, “Is he beyond the back issues that essentially forced him to miss all of training camp and three regular-season games, or is it an issue that’s going to limit him for the rest of his career?”
The return of Jimmy Smith will help the Ravens defensive roster immensely but can they afford to lose another corner? In 2014, after J. Smith went down for the year, the Ravens’ biggest weakness was their backfield. The only real issue here is money but I seriously doubt he’d be a cap casualty.
6. Jacoby Jones, 30, 3 years remaining
Jacoby’s role as a wide receiver all but disappeared in 2014. Jones wasn’t targeted during the playoffs after having just 9 receptions for 131 yards in the regular season. He has basically become a specialty kick returner. That is a luxury that the Ravens cannot afford at $2.5 million for 2015. He would be a tough character to let walk but ultimately that’s $2.5 million that can go towards filling so many other holes in the roster.
7. Dennis Pitta, 29, Returning from injury
Do the Ravens make another tight end move in the draft or free agency? Pitta is a great player & a Flacco favorite but coming off his 2nd catastrophic hip injury. Can the Ravens trust that he will make it through a full season? With Crockett Gilmore as the only other TE currently on the roster do the Ravens look to the draft? …and that brings us to #8…
8. Owen Daniels, 32, free agent
Owen Daniels is another one of the 1-year signings that the Ravens brought in that was familiar with Gary Kubiak’s system. After Dennis Pitta went down with a season-ending hip injury, the Ravens were thanking their lucky starts they had him. Now, it is still uncertain whether or not Pitta will be able to return to the Ravens in 2015 or even play football again after his second serious hip injury. Crocket Gillmore is a good target but is more of a blocking tight end first.
Daniels has expressed interest in staying with the Ravens and playing a few more years before he retires but the numbers will have to be right.
9. Marshall Yanda, 30, 1 year remaining
Much like Ngata, Yanda is one of the higher paid guys on the roster that is worth every penny. Also like Ngata, the back end of his contract is the heavy side at $8.45 million for 2015. He’s a perennial Pro Bowler that the Ravens should want to extend through the end of his career and hopefully would be willing to adjust his salary to stay in Purple and Black.
10. Chris Canty, 32, 1 year remaining
There has been no official announcement but Chris Canty may be considering retirement. He has one year remaining on his contract that has the potential to free up $3,326,668. That’s not to say that the Ravens want to lose a guy like Canty. I guess he is a guy that we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
Content Producer for CBS Radio Baltimore – Born & Raised in Baltimore with a passion for local sports with a dash of cynicism.