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Updated Baltimore Ravens Salary Cap Picture

As of two weeks ago, the Ravens reportedly had the fourth least available cap space in the NFL for the 2016 season. After five roster decisions, combined with the league wide rise in maximum salary cap, the Ravens are currently in a much better position...

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL salary cap is adjusted annually based off the league's revenues, which have risen every year since the cap was introduced in 1994.  The base salary cap for the 2016 season is $155,270,000 an increase of $11.99 million from the 2015 salary cap figure.

Baltimore Ravens franchise quarterback Joe Flacco agreed to a three year contract extension earlier this week.  The Ravens wisely elected a more consistent yearly cap charge proration with the structure of this new extension. The team created roughly $6 million in cap space for the 2016 season with this move, Flacco's cap charge will be $22,550,000 next season.

Ravens Kicker Justin Tucker has also been franchised, his 2016 cap number will be $4,572,000 unless a long term contract is reached. Tucker has signed his franchise tender.

Special teams ace Albert McClellan inked a three year contract this week, with a total value of $3,750,000.  Exact terms of McClellan's contract have not been released, his cap number for 2016 will be approximately $1.45 million.

The Ravens have also released declining linebacker Daryl Smith, creating $2.6 million in new cap space.  And defensive end Chris Canty's 2016 option will be declined, adding another $2,150,000 in available cap space.

In total, the Ravens added about $6 million to their salary commitments while deducting $10.75 million from their salary 'payroll'.  Combined with the increased base salary cap, the Ravens currently have approximately $11,785,966 in cap space.  This figure is the 9th least across the NFL, an improvement for 4th least.

The Ravens can still create more cap space before free agency begins next week.  General manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh have made it clear they will retain safety Lardarius Webb and running back Justin Forsett at their current contract numbers.

However, additional players may be released, including offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, tight end Dennis Pitta, cornerback Kyle Arrington, and safety Anthony Levine, among others.  Releasing these four players would create a minimum of $5 million in new cap space, or as much as $14.6 million if the Ravens elect to push some of the dead money to 2017 by using post-June designations when cutting these players.

It is unclear if the Ravens will be able to retain homegrown free agent offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele, his contract aspirations are rumored to be in the $9 million per year range. Outside linebacker  Courtney Upshaw does not appear to be a free agency priority for the team at this point judging by Newsome's comments to the media.

Cornerback Shareece Wright is also an unrestricted free agent, along with valued long snapper Morgan Cox.  The Ravens will surely sign some of their restricted and exclusive rights free agents, wide receiver Kamar Aiken, running back Terrance West, offensive guard Ryan Jensen and wide receiver Jeremy Butler are the most likely candidates.

Even more cap space creating possibilities exist with players already under contract.  Signing Tucker to a long term deal could make space by using backloaded contract structure.  Exceptional nose guard Brandon Williams could be signed to an early contract extension with a backloaded proration, although a more consistent structure may be preferred and any large bonus would increase his 2016 cap charge.

Safety Will Hill and offensive tackle Ricky Wagner could also be offered early extensions.  And cornerback Jimmy Smith may be asked to restructure the terms of his current contract.

With almost $12 million in cap space and many options to create even more cap space, the Ravens are in a much better salary cap position than they were a few weeks ago.  Whether the Ravens elect to allocate their cap space on a single bonafide difference maker or a handful of complimentary players, they do have the flexibility necessary to improve the team.

Team owner Steve Biscotti has mandated the Ravens contend for a championship every season and a few key players are entering the twilight of their careers.  These factors combined dictate that the Ravens will almost assuredly spend up to the maximum salary cap limit this offseason.  It will be interesting to see how the front office approaches free agency with their newfound cap space and builds the 2016 roster during the coming months.