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How the Ravens can free up cap space for WR Jeremy Maclin

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For Maclin to come to Baltimore, the Ravens must find more cap space. Who could be on the chopping block?

NFL: Preseason-Detroit Lions at Baltimore Ravens Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The release of former Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin surprised the majority of the NFL world. As soon as the news broke, fans of many teams that need wide receiver help took to the internet, pleading for their team to sign Maclin. Of all the teams that could be in the market for Maclin, the Baltimore Ravens seem to make the most sense. Not only does Maclin fit exactly the mold of what the Ravens need at wide receiver, but he has four years of experience playing under Ravens’ offensive coordinator Marty Monrhinweg.

However, the Ravens have just $2.1 million in cap space, the second smallest amount in the NFL (only the Rams have less). It will definitely take more than $2.1 million to be able to sign Maclin. Thus, what moves do the Ravens need to make in order to make room?

Three players jump out as ones with large contracts but may not be key pieces to this season. Those players are tight ends Benjamin Watson and Dennis Pitta, as well as cornerback Kyle Arrington.

Arrington may be a pretty easy player to let go of. Cutting Arrington would double the Ravens cap space to $4.2 million, and it will only leave $666,668 of dead cap according to Spotrac. The Ravens added a lot of CB depth this offseason, and even after likely losing Tavon Young for the year, Arrington is still expendable. He looks to be behind Marlon Humphrey, Lardarius Webb and Maurice Canady on the depth chart. Arrington has the 16th highest cap hit on the team, that’s just too much for a player who is unlikely to see much of the field this season.

Either instead of, or in addition to releasing Arrington, the Ravens could cut Ben Watson. Watson has the 12th highest cap hit on the team, and plays a position where the Ravens have a lot of depth. Getting rid of Watson would give the Ravens $3 million in cap space according to Spotrac, bringing the the cap space up to $5.1 million ($7.2 million if the Ravens also cut Arrington). With Maxx Williams, Crockett Gillmore, Nick Boyle and Darren Waller all still on the roster, the Ravens frankly don’t really need Watson, at least not at the cost they are paying for him. Maxx Williams could be in line for a breakout season if he stays healthy, while Boyle, Waller and Gillmore all have been involved in the offense throughout their careers, and all can make a positive impact. There really isn’t anything Watson brings that the other four as a group can’t do.

A final route the Ravens could take is either releasing Dennis Pitta, or seeing if he chooses to retire after his re-injuring his hip. We all were shocked that Pitta was able to come back from his second hip injury, but I just can’t see how he returns from a third such injury. Releasing Pitta would give the Ravens $3 million more in cap space for 2017. However, I think retirement may be the most likely outcome.

Giving the Ravens $4.2 million by just releasing Arrington may not be enough to get Maclin. I personally don’t see Maclin going for anything less than $5 million a year. Thus Watson and/or Pitta will have to go. Losing either one of them would get the Ravens over $5 million in cap space for 2017. Releasing Arrington in addition puts the Ravens over $7 million, which would move the Ravens to the forefront of the competition for Maclin. Some tough decision are going to have to be made, but the Ravens may not get a better chance to get exactly the type of player they need than they have right now.