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Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome isn’t worried about being pressed up against the salary cap.
The Ravens reportedly rank third among NFL teams in the smallest amount of cap space remaining ($1.7 million), but Newsome said the team still has flexibility to make some moves.
“We talk about the cap basically every day, and if there’s a good player that can come in and help our football team, we’ll be able to fit him under our cap,” Newsome said Wednesday at the team’s pre-draft press conference.
Unlike some other teams in the NFL, the Ravens often don’t have much salary-cap space to use during the offseason. They tend to eat up the bulk of their cap signing players they originally drafted, like Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata, rather than being big spenders on the free-agent market.
The Ravens did make some free-agency moves this year – re-signing linebackers Jameel McClain and Brendon Ayanbadejo and bringing in defensive backs Corey Graham and Sean Considine – but they stayed out of the bidding for the marquee free agents.
If they want to add more players to that list, fans can take comfort in savvy front-office executives who are experienced in dealing with cap limits.
“It’s not unique,” Newsome said. “We’ve been here four or five other times that I can recall.”
Part of the Ravens’ approach to managing the cap is avoiding the restructuring of contracts to back-load the deals. The risk with that approach is that teams can potentially get bogged down with “dead money,” where they are paying players who aren’t even on the team anymore.
“Teams do some things that we try not to do because Steve gives us the talk all the time about what it’s going to be in 2013 and 2014,” Newsome said. “So we just don’t try to put everything into one year.”
A time where the Ravens did try to structure contracts in a way to put all the stock in one season was in 2001, Newsome said. The Ravens fell short of the Super Bowl that season and then had to disband the core of that team after the season.
“We just turned the whole team over,” Newsome said. “I think we’ve learned from that.”
Baltimore prefers to use free agency as a time to fill holes on the roster by targeting affordable players and use the draft as a place to rebuild the core of the team.
But if there’s a player that comes available at the right price, Newsome and the Ravens still have the flexibility to jump.