At the time, it seemed as though the Baltimore Ravens were making the right decision when they extended the contract of defensive back Lardarius Webb and gave new deals to keep offensive tackle Eugene Monroe and tight end Dennis Pitta.
Now all three of those contracts fall in the category of buyer's remorse. Those deals rival Joe Flacco's monstrous cap number as the reasons Baltimore has the second-worst cap situation in the NFL.
According to the ESPN roster management system, the Ravens have only $6.1 million in cap space, and that's before the team uses the franchise tag on kicker Justin Tucker ($4.5 million) and places a second-round tender on restricted free agent Kamar Aiken ($2.5 million). Only the Buffalo Bills, who currently are over the projected $154 million cap, are in a worse situation.
Webb, Monroe and Pitta count a total of $25.9 million against the cap, or 16.8 percent of Baltimore's entire cap. In comparison, Flacco's $28.55 million cap number represents 18.5 percent of the Ravens' cap.
The knee-jerk reaction is to cut Webb, Monroe and Pitta before the start of free agency. But the Ravens would have to carry $19 million in dead money to create $6.7 million in cap space. That's not winning economics in the NFL.
So what can the Ravens do? Here are the options:
DB Lardarius Webb: His $10 million cap number is high for a declining cornerback. But with Webb moving to safety, that figure is unsightly. It would rank second among all safeties, and Webb has made two starts at the position. General manager Ozzie Newsome noted after the season that the Ravens believe Webb's ball skills will be an asset at safety, so it doesn't sound as if the Ravens are thinking about cutting Webb. Baltimore might ask him to take a pay cut for a second straight season, given the Ravens' cap situation and Webb's change of position.
OT Eugene Monroe: The five-year, $37.5 million deal given to Monroe was fair based on the market for a left tackle in 2014. His $6.5 million ranks 12th among left tackles. But the Ravens can't be confident he'll be healthy every week, as he's missed 16 games (including playoffs) since signing that contract two years ago. It was telling when Newsome didn't refer to Monroe as the starting left tackle at the season-ending news conference. "We have some options" at left tackle, Newsome said. It wouldn't be a surprise if Baltimore cut him or approached him to reduce his salary. The Ravens, though, might want to have a contingency plan in place before doing so. James Hurst is the only other left tackle under contract who has any starting experience.
TE Dennis Pitta: The Ravens showed a lot of faith in Pitta when they signed him to a five-year, $32 million deal after he was limited to four games with a dislocated hip in 2013. It was just bad luck for both Pitta and Baltimore when he fractured the same hip the next season, which has put his career in jeopardy. Pitta still wants to play, but the Ravens honestly don't need him. Baltimore is in a good situation at tight end with the way Crockett Gillmore started the season and Maxx Williams ended it. And Nick Boyle looked like one of the Ravens' top rookies before his suspension. The Ravens can cut Pitta in June, spreading his cap hit over two seasons, in 2016 ($2.2 million) and 2017 ($4.4 million). That would give Baltimore $5 million in cap space on June 1.