Crunching the Numbers
Around the League is taking a look at each team's salary cap situation as we approach the start of training camp:
• Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
• Bengals | Browns | Ravens | Steelers
• Colts | Jaguars | Texans | Titans
• Broncos | Chargers | Chiefs | Raiders
• Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Redskins
• Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings
• Buccaneers | Falcons | Panthers | Saints
• 49ers | Cardinals | Rams | Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson are not in the same class as the New England Patriots' dynamic tight end duo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, but they're a productive one. In their second seasons in the NFL, Pitta and Dickson combined for 94 receptions, 933 yards and eight touchdowns and both ranked among the top 32 tight ends in Football Outsiders' advanced metrics DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) and DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average). Pitta and Dickson will earn $540,000 base salaries this season and will be restricted free agents in 2013.
Potential camp casualty: The Ravens paid left tackle Bryant McKinnie a $500,000 roster bonus in March, but he reportedly struggled with his conditioning in the offseason program, prompting the team to hold him out of minicamp. The Ravens have options at the position and if the soon-to-be 33-year-old looks more like a planet than a left tackle when he reports to training camp, his $3.2 million base salary could make him expendable.
Contract issue(s) looming in 2013: Fictional Baltimore resident Omar Little once said in HBO's "The Wire", "Man, money ain't got no owners, only spenders." The Ravens, who currently have the fifth-lowest amount of committed cash in 2013, could be doing plenty of spending next offseason.
Behind door No. 1 is running back Ray Rice, who has nearly 4,000 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns in his three seasons as a full-time starter. Rice led the NFL in yards from scrimmage in 2011, was franchised to the tune of $7.742 million in 2012 and doesn't turn 26 until Jan. 2013. A deal could be worked out before next Monday's deadline, but running backs are generally poor free agent investments as they have a short shelf-life. Plus, the Ravens could always franchise him again next year.
Behind door No. 2 sits quarterback Joe Flacco, who has been productive (60.8 completion percentage, 13,816 passing yards with 80 touchdowns and 46 interceptions), durable (three missed snaps the past two seasons) and has helped the Baltimore Ravens reach the playoffs in each of the past four seasons, matching the number of playoff appearances the franchise made from 1996 to 2007, the year before his arrival as a first-round pick out of Delaware.
That said the Ravens' five playoffs wins in the Flacco Era have often come in spite of his performances. In three of those wins, Flacco's completion percentage has been at or below 50 percent, including two games in which he completed fewer than 10 passes. Need more proof that "quarterback wins" is a joke statistic? Flacco "won" a playoff game against the Patriots by completing four passes for 34 yards with an interception and a passer rating of 10.0. It's a team game, folks.
Flacco is due $6.76 million in base salary this season, and the Ravens could always place the franchise tag on him next offseason. Based on a projected NFL-wide cap number of $121 million in 2013, the non-exclusive tender for quarterbacks in 2013 would be worth $14.536 million.
Oh, and let's not forget about safety Ed Reed, a future Hall of Famer who has managed to simultaneously angle for a new contract while being non-committal about his playing future. A new deal would make sense for both sides -- Reed has a $7.2 million base salary and $8.5 million cap number this season that could be re-worked to give the Baltimore Ravens some much-needed cap relief - but appears unlikely at this point.
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