Is Tucker gone next year?

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens kicker Justin Tucker is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Having quickly established himself as a clutch kicker with the ability to kick the ball out of the endzone during kickoffs, Tucker is easily a top option in the league right now. Will his new contract be too much for the Ravens to stomach?

Ravens kicker Justin Tucker is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Having quickly established himself as a clutch kicker with the ability to kick the ball out of the endzone during kickoffs, Tucker is easily a top option in the league right now. Given the Ravens' headaches with kickers after the departure of original Raven Matt Stover, you'd have to question the Ravens letting Tucker head off to another team.

Then again, Tucker would be seeking a contract in line with the top kickers in the league. While you might think that a kicker's salary isn't all that bad, the average of the top 5 kickers still has an average salary of $3.5million with a signing bonus of around $1million per year ($4million over 4 years). A deal in that ballpark would put Tucker's cap hit at about $4.5million next year; a number that is rather difficult to swallow.

Looking at recent contracts, Tucker would want to model his after Chicago's Robbie Gould who signed a 4 year $15million contract with a $3million signing bonus and nearly $9million guaranteed. It wouldn't be much of a stretch to see Tucker look for a larger deal than Gould given the accomplishments that Tucker has had in his short career and Tucker's age. I would expect Tucker to look for a deal similar to the following:

4 years - $18million - $4million signing bonus - $10million guaranteed

At a cap hit average of $5.5million per year, it would seriously impact the Ravens' attempts to sign wide receiver Torrey Smith, cornerback Jimmy Smith, a more inflated year for quarterback Joe Flacco, and the ability to sign during the free agency period. There are options where the Ravens could essentially rent Tucker for cheap for a year or 2, but they include the 'franchise tag' and restricted tenders that most teams wouldn't want to match due to draft pick compensation. Both fortunately and unfortunately, the Ravens aren't known for playing fast and loose with contracts in that manner so it would be unexpected for them to make those types of moves.

Tucker has a career field goal percentage of 91.9%, a longest field goal of 61 yards done during the 2013 week 15 game in Detroit, as well as a ProBowl trip and multiple Special Team Player of the Week awards to his name. Tucker also recently got engaged to his now fiance Amanda at the end of last season.

What would you like to see the Ravens do with Justin Tucker?

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