The Baltimore Ravens need to be under the cap by March 15 at 4:00 p.m. ET, which is when the new league year officially begins. Currently, they are still $3.059 million over the cap according to overthecap.com. This includes the Michael Pierce contract restructure that recently occurred.
What this number doesn’t include is the Chuck Clark trade that occurred on March 9. While that trade will eventually save the Ravens $4.14 million, because the new league year doesn't take place until March 15, the same time the Ravens must be cap compliant, it won’t help them now. This also doesn’t include the recently reported Gus Edwards contract adjustment, whose numbers have yet to be reported at the time of this article.
You can check for updates on those numbers here.
Something to keep in mind w/ the Clark trade - this will not create Cap space for the Ravens until after 3/15 @ 4:00 when the trade becomes official. So, this will not impact their need to create $9M in Cap space to get under the Cap by 3/15 @ 4:00. Other moves will be needed. https://t.co/K9Rv9gPtrr— Brian McFarland (@RavensSalaryCap) March 10, 2023
With probably at least $6 million (give or take Edwards restructure) to go by Wednesday, here are a couple of moves the Ravens can make to create cap space.
Extend Lamar Jackson
This is the most obvious and least likely. The Ravens are currently on the books for $32 million for the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson. If the Ravens can reach a deal with him before Wednesday, it’s very likely the 2023 cap hit will be less in order to give the Ravens some room to operate on signing free agents this offseason.
Again, this is very unlikely. The Ravens have been negotiating with Lamar for 24 months and made little headway, hence why they applied the non-exclusive franchise tag to give him a chance to get a deal he feels he’s worth with another team. There is zero reasons to expect a deal to suddenly form before he’s had a chance to talk to teams, which will start Wednesday.
This is interesting. So Jackson will have to wait until Wednesday to negotiate w other teams. https://t.co/UGpuTFx3Zu— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) March 9, 2023
Extend Calais Campbell
Calais Campbell made it known that he plans to return to football this season, after much talk about whether or not he would retire after 2022. Campbell is currently on the books for the Ravens, his last year on his current deal, with a cap hit of $9.44 million.
Campbell has yet to show his age despite playing last season at 36 years old, still playing at an elite level the past two years. With a younger defensive line around him including Pierce, Justin Madubuike, Broderick Washington, and Travis Jones, keeping Campbell’s leadership, veteran knowledge, and play around is easily done with a lower snap count. Adding an extra year or two to his contract to decrease his 2023 cap hit is a no-brainer and absolutely should be one of the next moves made.
Extend Kevin Zeitler
Kevin Zeitler is also in the last year of his contract with the Ravens, but is younger coming into his age-33 season. Zeitler has absolutely locked down the right guard spot for the Ravens since arriving in 2021. Over the past two seasons, Zeitler is tied as the ninth overall guard amongst 83 qualified guards who played 750 snaps or more both in 2021 and 2022.
Zeitler is one of the key parts of this offensive line, which has arguably been the biggest driving force and factor in determining success for this offense. With Ben Powers being a free agent and Ben Cleveland the only other guard on the roster (outside of the position versatile Patrick Mekari and backup center Trystan Colon), cutting Zeitler is out of the question.
Instead, the Ravens should focus on taking Zeitler’s 2023 cap hit of $9.47 million and spreading it across another two or three years. Now-retired Ravens right guard Marshal Yanda didn’t stop until after his age-35 season and was still near the top of his game. Extending Zeitler is an easy cap creator and a good team move.
Cut or Extend Devin Duvernay
Devin Duvernay started strong last season, scoring touchdowns, making toe-tap grabs, and winning contested catches throughout the first three weeks. Once Rashod Bateman went down with an injury, it was easy to see that Duvernay was not a No. 1 wide receiver.
While Duvernay isn’t a WR1, he has shown potential as a second or third option. Along with that, he’s also an All-Pro returner and probably the best the Ravens have since Jacoby Jones. Duvernay finished the third year of his contract in 2022, meaning the front office can now start negotiating an extension if they would like.
The other option is to cut him. His cap hit for 2023 is $4.52 million and cutting him would only create $221,966 in dead cap, resulting in $4.30 million worth of savings. After years of disappointment during the Jackson era, John Harbaugh mentioned wanting to recreate the wide receiver room.
With that being said and considering Duvernay’s 2023 cap hit, his roster spot is far from guaranteed right now. Either way, something should be done with Duvernay’s contract before Wednesday.
John Harbaugh talking about a “new” wide receiver room. pic.twitter.com/pe8s0FUFAl— Z.J. (Feed da ) (@Purp_BlackVeins) March 12, 2023
Outside of extensions or cuts, the other option is base salary restructures. This turns a current player's salary into the vet minimum and pushes the players signing bonus to the other pro-rated years. According to Spotrac, the Ravens have nine players they can restructure, though five of these restructures would create less than $2 million in savings for those players.
The possible restructures (and their savings) are; Ronnie Stanley ($7.55 million), Marlon Humphrey ($7.06 million), Mark Andrews ($4.28 million), Roquan Smith ($2.73 million), Tyus Bowser ($1.70 million), Patrick Mekari ($1.46 million), Morgan Moses ($1.41 million), Patrick Ricard ($835,000) and Justin Tucker ($68,000).
The total of all nine restructures would come to $27.12 million in savings, while the four major ones would result in $21.63 million worth of savings. While that is certainly more than enough to get under the cap (they would only need to do one of Stanley or Humphrey to accomplish that as of right now), it’s something to keep in mind if the Ravens look for free agents. It’s possible a certain wide receiver or cornerback catches their eye.
It’s important to keep in mind that each restructures only kicks money down the road, increasing their cap hits in the years after.