People clearly were not paying attention when Ozzie Newsome said the Ravens were not going to mortgage the future in order to bring back the exact same team that won the Super Bowl. Did you think he was kidding?
Before I tell you why the Ravens moves are for the good, let’s put to rest the myth that Joe Flacco’s contract is the reason that Paul Kruger, Danelle Ellerbe, Cary Williams, Ed Reed, Bernard Pollard and Anquan Boldin are now former Ravens. In the NFL there is a salary cap and each player has a cap number. Who has the highest cap number on the Ravens in 2013? No, it is not the QB with the $120,000,000 contract. It is Terrell Suggs with a Cap Number of $13,020,000. The number 2 cap number? Haloti Ngata at $11,500,000. So Flacco is number three right? WRONG. Number three is Marshal Yanda with a cap number of $7,450,000. Flacco comes in at number four with a Cap Number of $6,800,000. Not too far behind are Ray Rice at $5,750,000 and LarDarious Webb at $5,385,000.
For the mathematically challenged out there, six players above account for $49,905,000 against the Ravens $123 Million Cap. That is approximately 40.573% of the Ravens cap. Yes folks, six players taking up 40.57% of the 2013 Cap. That is why the Ravens are making changes. Want to know more? Ray Lewis, Matt Birk and Billy Cundiff, are counting $6,150,000 against the Ravens 2013 salary Cap. So look at our top six players and add in two retiree’s and one kicker we’d all like to forget, the Ravens cap number is $56,055,000. Nine players, three of them no longer playing, 45.57% of the Ravens Salary Cap.
If you cannot see that Flacco’s contract is not to blame, please go to your local community college and enroll in economics 101. Now, let me tell you why as a Ravens fan, you should be happy.
Let’s face it, after the Denver Disaster in December, no one gave the Ravens a chance of winning the Super Bowl. We all thought the season was over. We thought the Ravens would be one and done in the playoffs and finish 9-8. The Ravens defense was not good in 2012. Watching teams carve up the Ravens rush defense was painful. For a defense that probably had five RB rush for over 100 yards against them in about 12 years, it seemed that every RB in the NFL rushed for over 100 yards against the Ravens in 2012. But, they seemed to defend the red zone well. During the playoffs, some of our players got healthy and things gelled. However, the Ravens still let up yards in the playoffs. The defense had to change.
Ray Lewis announced his retirement. While I will miss him, his persona, his charisma and his leadership, I will not miss his play. Unlike his teammates, or members of the media, I have no issue saying I thought Ray Lewis sucked in 2012. He could not cover anyone in pass coverage, he no longer had range in defending the run and he was hurt for the majority of the season.
Paul Kruger, had a great 2012, right?. Did you notice in the first six weeks of the season when Terell Suggs was not playing Kruger only had 1.5 sacks? Sure he recorded 7.5 sacks in the last nine weeks, but let’s be real, without Suggs, Kruger is an unknown. I hope he breaks out and is a superstar, but let’s not count on it. He also struggles against the run and is really a situational pass rusher. So I ask you, do you pay a guy $8,000,000 per year to be just a pass rusher? The short answer? No.
Danelle Ellerbe was a defensive MVP in 2012. He also missed a lot of time with injury. In fact, Ellerbe has missed a ton of time with injuries over his career. I love his passion, love his heart, but I believe our top six paid guys are better players and more critical then Ellerbe. At an average of $7 Million per year, all I can say to Ellerbe is congratulations, good luck and say hi to LeBron.
Today Ed Reed is leaving for Houston. Does it suck? Yes. Will I miss chanting REEEEEEEED in the fall? You bet. But I won’t miss having a Safety who is a liability in the run game. I won’t miss a safety who is not the player he was in 2006. I won’t miss the summer sad song Ed has been running and I won’t miss the seeing a former stud appear mortal. Right player right price. I am glad Ed got a big pay day.
We are getting younger and faster Baltimore. Suggs will be healthy. Ngata knows he better step up his game in 2013 or he might be the first out the door in 2014. We have Rice, Flacco, Smith, Pitta, Jones, KO, Yanda, Upshaw etc.
This team has talent. It has 12 draft picks. The team has added solid defensive players. The Ravens will be fine.
The last reason I can give as to why the Ravens are going to be fine is simple. Not one Super Bowl Champion has won a playoff game in seven years. Most of those teams have gone unchanged and brought back the same team. We knew Ray was leaving, no need to bring back everyone. Let’s retool where we need to. Let Ozzie work his magic with 12, count ‘em 12 draft picks. The nucleus is solid. Bold prediction, Ravens win AFC North in 2013.
That’s the bottom line!!