Ravens can double their cap space with biggest purge in 15 years

The Baltimore Ravens can double their current salary-cap room before free agency begins March 9.

The Ravens just need to make their biggest cap purge in 15 years to do so.

Baltimore, which currently has $15.3 million in cap room (fifth-fewest in the NFL), can create an additional $20.3 million in space with a half-dozen moves. The Ravens would need to cut linebacker Elvis Dumervil ($6 million in savings), safety Lardarius Webb ($5.5 million), cornerback Shareece Wright ($2.6 million), center Jeremy Zuttah ($2.3 million), cornerback Kyle Arrington ($2.1 million) and safety Kendrick Lewis ($1.8 million).

This would mark a drastically different offseason for the Ravens, who haven't released more than four players before the start of free agency since 2002.

"Everything is on the table," coach John Harbaugh said about potential cap cuts at the end of the season. "Absolutely, everything has to be on the table, in terms of how we can improve. The financial part of it is a big piece of it."

Right now, the Ravens only have more cap room than four teams: the Dallas Cowboys ($13 million over), New York Jets ($8.7 million over), Kansas City Chiefs ($5.2 million under) and Philadelphia Eagles ($9.6 million under). In order to improve an 8-8 team, Baltimore needs to create more cap space to try to keep a top free agent (nose tackle Brandon Williams and offensive tackle Rick Wagner), add a veteran cornerback, fill the void left by retired wide receiver Steve Smith and potentially replace Dumervil and Webb if they're cut.

Dumervil has become a prime candidate to get released because of his cap number ($8.375 million) -- fourth-highest on the team -- as well as his age (33) and declining sack numbers (career-worst three last season). Webb is another potential target because of his cap figure ($7.5 million) and an uneven season in his first year as a safety.

The other likely cap-cutting decisions include Zuttah, who was inconsistent as an undersized center; Wright, who struggled more than any other Ravens defender; Arrington, who spent all of last season on injured reserve; and Lewis, who lost his starting safety job and was placed on IR last October.

The Ravens could decide to cut more players. Parting ways with wide receiver Mike Wallace ($5.75 million) and tight end Ben Watson ($3 million) would open up an additional $8.75 million.

Baltimore could also choose to not let go of as many players. The Ravens might hold on to Webb, who played better toward the end of the season.

Traditionally, the Ravens don't start making their cuts until the end of February. Baltimore hasn't released many players for cap purposes recently. Only eight Ravens players were cut or traded before the start of free agency over the previous four offseasons.

Baltimore's biggest upheaval recently occurred in 2011, when the team cut tight end Todd Heap, wide receiver Derrick Mason, nose tackle Kelly Gregg and running back Willis McGahee.

But the greatest cap purge in team history came in 2002, when the Ravens released 10 players, including two future Hall of Fame players (safety Rod Woodson and tight end Shannon Sharpe) as well as defensive tackles Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa, wide receiver Qadry Ismail, defensive end Rob Burnett and fullback Sam Gash.

The Ravens aren't expected to match that number of cuts this offseason. But Baltimore will need to part ways with more than a handful of players to create much-needed cap room.