Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tough Decisions in Store for Ravens


As the sun prematurely sets on the Ravens season, many are looking ahead to 2008. Will the Ravens make a run at the playoffs in ’08 or will they set their sights on 2009 and beyond? Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti has stated clearly that he does not intend on operating the Ravens in a cyclical fashion and he wants the team to be competitive year in and year out. Yet he may have to take a mulligan in 2008.

Clearly the Ravens do not have efficient enough play at quarterback to make a playoff push with the current composition of the roster. Kyle Boller while somewhat more polished than in previous seasons continues to show promising glimpses here and there yet seemingly just a few plays later, he reverts back to the same rookie-like mistakes. His performance against the Chargers was a microcosm of his up and mostly down five year career.

Steve McNair is but a shadow of his former self. Once considered a solid caretaker of the football, McNair has given away possessions like a Macy’s Store Santa Claus hands out candy canes.

The salary cap situation might influence the Ravens to look a bit more beyond 2008 while keeping a watchful eye on Bisciotti’s long-term plan. Based upon numbers provided by Profootball24x7.com’s Brian McFarland, the Ravens appear to have just over $110M committed toward the 2008 Salary Cap of $116M. That leaves just under $6M in Salary Cap space to augment the 2008 roster.

What makes that figure even more alarming is that it includes only the 42 players under contract for 2008. Not included in that number are the team’s 4 Restricted Free Agents and 5 Exclusive Rights Free Agents. Those tenders will likely eat up that $6M in cap space, leaving the team right up against, or slightly spilling over the Salary Cap cup when the NFL’s hot stove league kicks off.

Clearly the team’s front office will need to be creative in order to re-sign or franchise Terrell Suggs. From a 2008 salary cap perspective, re-signing Suggs to a long-term deal is fiscally more attractive by leaps and bounds. A new Suggs deal would likely hit the Ravens cap in the 2.5M range, while slapping the franchise tag on Suggs would slap the Ravens back with a cap hit in the $8-10M range.

Perhaps even more disconcerting to Ravens fans is that the projected $110 M salary cap number does not include space to sign the team’s ’08 draft picks. More and more speculation has surfaced that the Ravens are eyeing a quarterback early in the April draft and with history as an indicator, early first round QB’s are not cheap.

If the current NFL Standings hold true to form by the season’s end, it’s a safe bet that Ozzie Newsome will be on the phone calling in his pick somewhere in the top 10. As it stands today, the Ravens would be on the clock with what looks like the draft’s eighth overall pick.

Teams that would pick ahead of the Ravens if the draft took place today are the Dolphins, Jets, Raiders, Panthers, Falcons, Patriots and Rams. Of those teams perhaps only the Panthers and the Falcons would consider quarterbacks. The Patriots will land a high pick as a result of a trade during the ’07 draft with the 49ers. Keep in mind that the Patriots have always been a friendly draft day trading partner of the Ravens.

2 comments :

ravcol said...

Try and lift one of the dozen or so nukes in Pakistan, bring it to One Winning Way and activate it. Take the $40M cap hit and cut all the geesers including CMAC, trade down in the draft, and bring in about a dozen new faces..then draft at least two QB's each year for the next three and see which one sticks. It's a very simple game..Oh, wave goodbye to T Sizzle too!

Anonymous said...

Ravens Principle #1:

NOTHING -- I repeat: NOTHING -- is going to change until BRIAN BILLICK is GONE. So you can talk all you want about players, caps, drafts, FA's, strategies, etc. NOTHING -- ABSOLUTELY NOTHING -- is going to make any difference to the Ravens until BRIAN BILLICK IS GONE.

PERIOD.

End of story.

And if he's back in 2008, it mucks up the draft, the offense, the team's training, the team's preparation, the discipline, the chemistry -- EVERYTHING. So put down the Purple Kool-Aid and deal with reality: NOTHING is going to amount to anything as long as Brian Billick is the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens.

And my hunch is, the longer he stays, the longer it's going to take to clean up his mess after he's finally gone.