*Disclaimer- I am not an expert on the salary cap to say the least, nor am I a professional writer. However I love this blog and decided I would try my first shot at a fanpost. Please let me know what you think, if any info is inaccurate please let me know.
I was reading this morning that the salary cap is will not drop below $175 million in 2021. If for arguments sake we were to suppose it drops to $175 million, that represents about a $23 million drop from this season, and between $30-$40 million drop from what was expected through mostly linear growth over the past couple seasons.
There are already numerous teams who will be exceeding that cap without resigning any pending free agents or their 2021 draft class. Naturally, my first instinct was to check Overthecap.com to see how the Ravens stack up. Initially I was delighted to see us with a projected $63 million in cap space, until I realize the cap shrinkage had not been accounted for. Using simple math, the Ravens should have roughly $23-25 million in cap space without making any moves according to my calculations. $23-$25 seems like a lot, especially for us Ravens fans, but a quick glance at Laremy Tunsil's contract extension raises cause for concern. Tunsil's deal was a 3 year extension worth $66 million, or $22 mil per season. With Ronnie Stanley needing an extension this is very bad news. In my mind, this basically eliminated any remaining possibility that the team will sign both Stanley and Judon, let alone a Bowser or a Wolfe.
The next course of action was to see who could provide some salary relief, so glancing the salaries on the books for 2021 I saw a player who could provide $10 million in room with no cap hit! My heart sank even further realizing it was Marlon and that he too is due for a payday soon, and with his level of play that an extension would likely provide little to no short term relief. So who could help? Brandon Williams and Mark Ingram's days as ravens seem limited in this scenario as they would provide a combined $8-9 million, and their replacements are already hopefully on the roster. Nick Boyle would provide around $3 mil with his release, but I am not sure if that space is worth losing what he provides to this team. Other than these, most other salaries would provide little to no relief or large amounts of dead cap, which is a road I would rather not go back down.
While glancing at the salaries it got me thinking "Where the hell is all of our money tied up?" Our first, second, and fourth highest cap numbers are Peters, Thomas, and Campbell. Our third and fifth highest cap numbers are Williams and Young, not counting Humphrey's fifth year option. Peters contributions are obious, Earl's are more arguable, and Campbell has yet to bee seen. Williams best days are likely behind him, in a league whose play style lowers his value, and Young is a huge question mark at this point. This brought me to the realization that if the salary cap shrinks, even a little bit, there are some very tough days ahead for the Ravens FO, players and fans.
It scares me to think we won't be able to resign some of the studs we drafted and groomed; that has always been a hallmark of this team. Stanley, Humphrey, Lamar, Andrews, Brown Jr all seem more than deserving of LTDs at this point in their careers, but the sad reality is we will not be able to keep them all if the cap shrinks this way.
It hardly seems fair, I am not sure there has ever been a better use of the phrase "unforeseen circumstances." So what do we do to make it right? My intention with this next sentence is purely hypothetical, there is no political undertone. The league will cry at lost revenue as a reason for shrinking the salary cap, however these owners and teams are extremely valuable and profitable and have been for quite some time. I propose a one player exemption for each team, I believe the NBA has some similar structures in place. Each team should be able to select one player, whose salary does not count toward the cap. This wouldn't solve all of the problems, but it should help the league and its stars from ending up in awkward situations like Clowney's. And I realize the owners are businessmen and have a right to their earnings, and would not be forced to use this exemption. But look at Mahomes deal, no matter what the Chiefs pay him he is almost guaranteed to provide a positive net return in comparison to the cost of his contract; the Chiefs will make more off Mahomes then they pay him. Teams need superstars, they need legends, its good for business and for the NFL its good for the brand.
I would love to know what you all think about the Ravens cap moving forward, and how you would feel about a contract exemption in the NFL? Thanks for taking the time to read my post and GO RAVENS!
P.S. To EDC, Harbs, LJ8 and all the others, I would feel SOOOOO much better about all of this if you bring home the Lombardi in 2020!