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Ravens restructure Terrell Suggs' contract to get under cap

The Baltimore Ravens restructured the contract of linebacker Terrell Suggs in a critical cap-cutting move, according to multiple reports.

The Ravens created $2.25 million in salary-cap space with the simple restructuring, which allows the team to get under the salary cap. All teams have to be under the NFL's $143.28 million cap when the new league year starts Tuesday afternoon.

Based on my calculations, the Ravens were going be close to $1 million over the cap after tendering their restricted and exclusive rights free agents. Now, the Ravens are going to be roughly $1.5 million under the cap.

Suggs had $3 million of his $4 million base salary in 2015 converted into a bonus, which lowered his cap number this year from $6.2 million to $3.95 million. By doing this, it adds $750,000 to his cap numbers in each of the final three years of his deal: $7.45 million in 2016, and $6.95 million in 2017 and 2018.

Suggs, 32, signed a four-year, $20.7 million contract extension last offseason.

General manager Ozzie Newsome said in the past that the Ravens want to avoid restructuring contracts because it only pushes the cap hit into future years. It is believed that this is only the third contract the Ravens have restructured since 2012 (the others were guard Marshal Yanda in 2012 and cornerback Lardarius Webb in 2014).

The Ravens now don't have to make a move with defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, although he represents the easiest way to create the most amount of cap space. The team can gain about $5 million in cap relief by signing him to an extension or free up $8.5 million by cutting the five-time Pro Bowl player.

Other cap-saving options include: releasing backup offensive lineman Gino Gradkowski ($1.542 million), restructuring the contract of Webb (potentially $3 million) and signing Yanda (about $2 million) or punter Sam Koch (about $1 million) to extensions.

The Ravens began Monday with $4.645 million in cap space, which was the sixth-lowest amount of room in the NFL, according to ESPN's Roster Management System. That accounted for 48 players being under contract.

The Ravens' cap room dwindled to $737,000 after the team tendered two restricted free agents -- kicker Justin Tucker ($2.356 million) and safety Will Hill ($1.542 million). Their space was reduced to $212,000 after they reportedly tendered 10 of their 11 exclusive rights free agents.

What puts the Ravens over the cap is the reported two-year agreement with backup defensive lineman Christo Bilukidi, who had been a restricted free agent. Terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed, but Bilukidi's cap hit could be $1 million if his contract is similar to the one signed by linebacker Albert McClellan, who was in the same situation as Bilukidi last offseason.

When factoring in all of those moves, the Ravens would have been about $713,000 over the cap before they restructured Suggs' contract.

A big reason the Ravens are so cap-strapped is the $9.5 million in dead money that was carried over after the release of running back Ray Rice. The total cap hit by Rice and tight end Dennis Pitta, who might not play this season, is $15.7 million, which accounts for 11 percent of the Ravens' 2015 cap.

Here are the Ravens' free agents:

Unrestricted (14): CB Antoine Cason, LS Morgan Cox, TE Owen Daniels, RB Justin Forsett, CB Danny Gorrer, DE Lawrence Guy, LB Pernell McPhee, SS Jeromy Miles, OL Will Rackley, OL Jah Reid, CB Aaron Ross, SS Darian Stewart, WR Torrey Smith and QB Tyrod Taylor.

Released/not tendered (5): WR-RS Jacoby Jones (Chargers), DE Chris Canty, NT Terrence Cody, CB Anthony Levine (not tendered as restricted free agent) and LS Kevin McDermott (not tendered as exclusive-rights free agent).

Restricted (2): DL Christo Bilukidi (reportedly re-signed), FS Will Hill (tendered at $1.542 million), K Justin Tucker (tendered at $2.356 million).

Exclusive rights (10): WR Kamar Aiken (tendered at $585,000), CB Tramain Jacobs ($510,000), OL Ryan Jensen ($510,000), DE Steven Means ($510,000), CB Rashaan Melvin ($585,000), LS Patrick Scales ($435,000), TE Phillip Supernaw ($510,000), RB Fitzgerald Toussaint ($510,000), S Brynden Trawick ($585,000) and DT Casey Walker ($510,000).