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Baltimore Ravens show structure matters more than total dollar amount

Wallace contract another example of why contract structure is what is important...

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens have signed 3 free agents this offseason already, not to mention the resigning of Shareece Wright, and in each instance, some or all of Ravens nation has been a little surprised at the contract size. But an important part of the NFL is non-guaranteed contracts, which means the structure of how and when the money is being paid out plays an important role in how big the contract really is. Many 4 year deals are essentially 2 year deals with additional options, as was the case with the Eric Weddle contract (more on that below). Other 2 year deals are essentially 1 year deals with an option for a second year, like it looks to be the case with Mike Wallace's recently signed deal. The terms are still emerging, but here is what we have so far:

So with a $4.5 million signing bonus, that would mean the Ravens would have to choose whether to pick up his year 2 option for $5.75, which would give him an $8 million cap hit for 2017, or to decline the option which would result in $2.25 million in dead money and a potential compensatory pick. The cap hit for 2016 is just $3.5 million or so, and the end result might be a 1 year, $5.75 million deal.

Weddle and Watson both have similarly structured deals.

Weddle got a 4 year deal, with a $7 million signing bonus and $13 million guaranteed over the first 2 years. Then the Ravens can decide for both 2018 and 2019 whether to pick up the $6.5 million options, or take the dead money ($3.5 million in 2018, $1.75 million in 2019). Truthfully, the $4 million base in 2017 is only guaranteed for injury, which means technically the Ravens could cut him after 2016 if he is ineffective, although they would only save $500,000 on the 2017 cap ($5.25 million in dead money) if they wanted to cut their losses. That would make it essentially a 1 year, $9 million deal.

The contract, from

The contract for Ben Watson also seemed high when you heard the total amount, but essentially this deal is a 1 year $4 million deal with a $3 million cap hit for 2016, with the option of a 2nd year at $3 million (with a $4 million cap hit), or $1 million dead money.

The contract, from

All in all, the Ravens are essentially only locked into 1 year for the Watson and Wallace deals, and 2 years for the Weddle deal. The three veterans will cost almost exactly $10 million for 2016, and for Wallace and Watson the Ravens will have to choose between them playing for $12 million combined cap hit ($8.75 million in additional money) in 2017, or let them go with $3.25 million in dead money.

The front office looks to be playing the cap games well, keeping structures flat, pushing some money into future years for key player like Joe Flacco, Marshal Yanda, and Jimmy Smith without mortgaging the future. The additions of these 3 veterans show the Ravens are looking to make a run for the next few years with Suggs and Dumervil in their last few seasons, and Joe Flacco in his prime.

But the bottom line is, don't let a few decisions that haven't worked out (Webb, Pitta and Monroe contracts) make you think our front office has lost it. They look to have regrouped and worked on their strategy to improve for the future and learn from their mistakes. Just another example of what we have come to love and respect about Ozzie Newsome, Steve Bisciotti, and the rest of the front office.