Football is a sport but the NFL is a business. Within this business, each franchise manages a budget above $180 million, with many projecting the 2019 season will eclipse $189 million. While such a large budget, managing 53 roster spots may seem simple, but the endgame is closer than many would think. Looking at the Ravens situation, there are six players whose value on the team may be outweighed by the millions of dollars in savings for the franchise.
Joe Flacco (Savings: $10,500,000)
We all know it’s coming. Either the Super Bowl XLVII MVP will be traded or he’ll be cut. With Lamar Jackson now leading the offense, the $10.5 million saved can be spent loading up on talent to protect or produce for the young quarterback. Or the team can splurge for more defensive talent to bully the AFC North.
Jimmy Smith (Savings: $9,500,000)
Entering the 2019 season, the star cornerback for Baltimore will be 31 years of age. When at his best, Smith is a top cornerback in the league. Unfortunately, after suffering multiple season-ending injuries, he may be slowing down. This season was up-and-down for Smith and new general manager Eric DeCosta might want to build a younger roster. Marlon Humphrey’s sophomore development also helps to mitigate the loss, seeing as the former Alabama cornerback was voted team MVP in 2018 for his outstanding play.
Michael Crabtree (Savings: $4,666,665)
There isn’t much to say that Frank J. Platko has not already covered earlier this week.
He’s older, he struggles with drops and his production once the quarterback change occurred plummeted to new lows. I do believe that Crabtree will stay with the team due to a relative lack of potential upgrades available on the 2019 free agent market, but that’s not exactly a positive.
Eric Weddle (Savings: $6,500,000)
Weddle is a savvy veteran. However, he is no longer a dominant safety worth $8.25 million. The team saves nearly 80% of his cap number by parting ways, which is hard to argue against. The Ravens can use these savings to sign players on other areas of defense or add a younger free safety to pair with Tony Jefferson, Chuck Clark or DeShon Elliott.
Brandon Carr (Savings: $5,000,000)
By now, you’ve noticed this list contains four defensive backs. I don’t expect the Ravens to let go of all four, but they may consider releasing one or two. The aging Carr is always on this list, but his production has yet to truly slip and his iron-man streak provides value to his team friendly contract. I kept him as a potential cap casualty because $5 million is a decent amount of money to save on a $7 million deal. Nonetheless, I believe Carr will return.
Anthony Levine (Savings: $1,500,000)
The special teams ace and hybrid defender turns 32 in March. He’s still a valuable asset on the team, but if the Ravens want to get younger, they could seek a replacement. They let Albert McClellan go in 2018, they may do the same with Levine in 2019.