<
>

Ravens currently rank No. 4 in least amount of cap room

The Baltimore Ravens have an estimated $4.616 million in salary-cap space based on the NFL setting the cap at $143.28 million, according to the ESPN Roster Management System.

This means the Ravens rank No. 4 in the least amount of cap room just a week before the start of free agency. Only the New Orleans Saints ($21.8 million over the cap), New England Patriots ($6.1 million over) and San Francisco 49ers ($2.9 million under) have less space than the Ravens.

This number will fluctuate because the Ravens need to tender their restricted and exclusive rights free agents and they will either sign players to extensions or cut them to create more cap space.

The Ravens will likely use $3.8 million on two restricted free agents: kicker Justin Tucker (second-round tender at $2.3 million) and safety Will Hill (low tender at $1.5 million). Defensive back Anthony Levine is the team's third restricted free agent, but the Ravens will likely try to sign him to a multi-year deal like linebacker Albert McClellan last year and defensive lineman Christo Bilukidi this year to avoid giving him a $1.5 million tender.

For their exclusive rights free agents, the Ravens will probably tender 1o of them for a total of $5.25 million. The team's exclusive rights free agents who should get tendered are: wide receiver Kamar Aiken; safety Brynden Trawick; cornerbacks Rashaan Melvin and Tramain Jacobs; guard Ryan Jensen; defensive end Steven Means; tight end Phillip Supernaw; running back Fitzgerald Toussaint; defensive tackle Casey Walker; and long snapper Patrick Scales.

If my calculations are correct, the Ravens will need $9 million of cap space to tender their restricted and exclusive rights free agents. That would put the Ravens over the cap by $4.9 million.

The Ravens will create cap room with defensive tackle Haloti Ngata because they will sign him to an extension (likely $5 million of cap space created) or cut him ($8.5 million of space). The team can also cut backup offensive lineman Gino Gradkowski to free up $1.574 million. There's also another $3 million that can be created if the Ravens restructure cornerback Lardarius Webb's deal. That's potentially $13 million in cap space that can be opened up with these three moves, if the Ravens cut Ngata.

What does all of this mean? It would be realistic to expect the Ravens to have between $5 million to $8 million in cap space when free agency begins. This would allow them to sign some of their key free agents but will limit what they can do in signing other teams' free agents.