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Some Insight into the Baltimore Ravens Roster Compostion

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An educational investigation into how the Ravens roster is composed compared to other teams...

There is an incredible site out there, and if you have not been there yet, I encourage you to take a look. That site is overthecap.com, led by the marvelous Jason Fitzgerald. They are doing an incredible job addressing areas of the sport which just are not covered elsewhere.

Their most recent series of articles provides a fascinating look into each team in the league's roster makeup, evaluating the composition of each team's roster what they call "cap texture" and "roster texture." For a deeper explanation of the terms, here is the article introducing the concept of "texture."

Since this is a Ravens site, I will be sticking to a purely Ravens evaluation. For now they are only able to evaluate last year's roster, since the 2015 roster is not yet set. Here is the average roster composition:

To understand the chart, here is the explanation of how players are categorized:

The Six Classes Of Texture

  • Elite Veteran: These are the players with the 32 highest veteran cap numbers in the league. Think of this as the equivalent of the highest paid player on each team—though of course, a few teams will have no elite contracts while a few others will have multiple. Also take special note that almost half of the players in the Elite category are quarterbacks. There is certainly a very high premium to retain a starting quarterback on a veteran contract.
  • High Veteran: Represents the 33rd to 160th highest veteran cap numbers, based roughly on the 2nd-5th highest cap numbers per team.
  • Middle Veteran: Represents the 161st to 320th highest veteran cap numbers, based roughly on the 6th-10th highest cap numbers per team.
  • Low Veteran: Represents all veterans with cap numbers below the top 320.
  • Rookie Contracts: Any player with less than four accrued seasons will fall into this category, unless their contract was extended before the 2014 season. Most of these players will be on drafted or UDFA deals, but several will also be on much shorter deals as they hop from one team to another trying to prove themselves. Almost all of these cap numbers would fall in the Low category if they were considered veterans
  • Dead Money: Although all teams want to minimize this as much as possible, some amount of dead money is inevitable as a consequence of acquiring and releasing players. Therefore, teams must always account for some proportion of their cap to contain dead money.


Here are the ranges for the four veteran categories for 2014:

Elite 1-32 $22,412,500 $11,250,000
High 33-160 $11,250,000 $5,400,000
Middle 161-320 $5,400,000 $3,202,125
Low 321 and lower $3,200,000

$635,000

Author Nick Korte notes that the six slices of the pie are relatively close to each other in proportion when it comes to cap spending. However, while the three highest paid categories (Elite, High, and Middle veteran players) make up only 10 roster spots on average (about 1/6th of the roster), they typically account for half of all cap expenditures. Similarly, and as you’d expect, while players on Rookie contracts constitute about 5/8ths of a roster, they only take up about a quarter of the spending.

How do the Ravens compare to the league averages? Very Favorably!

Click here for all the NFL Team's texture charts.

Korte had some interesting things to say about the Ravens charts:

  • No team had fewer players with Elite/High/Middle cap numbers than the Ravens with 5. If you’re familiar with Ozzie Newsome’s strategy as a GM, you shouldn’t be surprised by this. He is well known for letting players walk in free agency, take the compensatory picks that come with it, and replenish talent through the draft. This is also evident in the fact that the Ravens were tied with the Jaguars for most players employed on Rookie contracts.

Interestingly, despite being a top team, the Ravens did not spend very much money in 2014 on top players. In fact, they had 5 players in the top 3 categories compared with 10 for the average team. Also, the team  tied with the Jaguars for the most players on rookie contracts. This will only continue to increase, as the Ravens has been utilizing a full draft class each year, including compensatory picks, and hitting in nearly all of them.

So there you have it. The Raven seem to be playing chess when everyone else is playing checkers with regard to roster management. At some point soon, the Ravens drafting and developing ability will likely result in such a talented roster the team will be a top contender for an extended period of time. That time looks to be now. The future sure is bright in Baltimore!