With Thursday’s news that the NFL will raise its salary cap to $130 million for the 2014 league year, the Ravens now find themselves in even better position financially with the start of free agency less than three weeks away.
The signing of linebacker Terrell Suggs to a long-term extension Monday left the Ravens with an additional $4.6 million in cap space and just under $16 million total with the initially-projected cap of $126.3 million for 2014, but the league has elected to elevate the cap by over five percent from $123 million last year to $130 million, according to multiple outlets. Such an increase leaves Baltimore just under $20 million beneath the cap at the moment, but that’s not counting the cost of exclusive-rights free agents or restricted free agents.
The extra $3.7 million in space could alter general manager Ozzie Newsome’s outlook on several potential cap casualties such as linebacker Jameel McClain, punter Sam Koch, and fullback Vonta Leach as well as provide more wiggle room to re-sign unrestricted free agents such as tight end Dennis Pitta, left tackle Eugene Monroe, and linebacker Daryl Smith and pursue other possible free-agent targets. Of course, players and agents are very much aware of the news of a higher cap, which will subsequently drive up the cost of open-market free agents in theory.
It’s important to remember that a higher cap will also mean slightly-higher restricted tenders and franchise tag amounts, so the news is relative with all 32 teams benefiting in terms of additional space. If the Ravens plan to use the tag on Pitta, they would now have to fork over an estimated $6.89 million for the tight end franchise tag compared to the previous projection of $6.7 million discussed this offseason.
Of course, whether Pitta would qualify for the tight end tender is a different story entirely.
Teams have until March 3 to decide whether to use the franchise tag on a player and the free-agency signing period begins on March 11 at 4 p.m.