Entering Wednesday with the least amount of salary cap space in the NFL, the Ravens have taken an important step to create more flexibility.
As first reported by ESPN, Baltimore restructured the contract of veteran cornerback Jimmy Smith, which frees up an additional $5.15 million in cap space for the 2017 season. According to NFLPA records, the Ravens had just $5.046 million in cap space on Wednesday and now have $10.196 million in room.
However, that full amount is only available until the end of the preseason when the Rule of 51 — which only takes into account the top 51 cap numbers on the 90-man roster — ceases to apply. At that point, the entire 53-man roster, players on injured reserve, and the 10-man practice squad all count against the cap, leaving less flexibility for general manager Ozzie Newsome. Teams typically need to have at least $4 million or $5 million entering the regular season to account for the inevitable injuries that will require replacement signings.
Originally scheduled to make $8.5 million in base salary this season, Smith instead receives a $7.725 million bonus to go along with a $775,000 salary for 2017. This lowers his scheduled 2017 cap figure to $7.45 million, but it adds $2.575 million to his cap numbers for both 2018 and 2019.
The Ravens clearly needed more cap flexibility, but the 29-year-old Smith will now count for $15.675 million toward the 2018 cap and $16.175 million in 2019, numbers that aren’t exactly appealing for an oft-injured defensive back who will be on the wrong side of 30.