Thursday, June 19, 2008

Countdown to Ravens' summer camp begins...32, 31, 30...

While the Orioles are doing their collective best to maintain our interest this summer, many of us are counting down the days until the start of training camp. For the record camp is 32 days away.

Not much will happen between now and then for the Ravens or the NFL for that matter and that’s exactly what the league wants. A cooling period to re-charge, re-set and reinvigorate the appetite of the viewing public is what Dr. Goodell has ordered. Pac-Man, are you listening?

Outside of the signing announcements which should pick up some steam shortly, no news is good news.

On Tuesday we learned that Jonathan Ogden and Steve McNair have officially retired. The move creates $6.5 million in cap space for the Ravens but it does carry forward $10.226M in dead money ($4.9M from McNair, $5.326M from JO) against the team’s 2009 cap.

Now that might seem like a heavy load but look at this way; the cap for all teams will increase in 2009 by roughly that same $10 million – perhaps more and the team does have a little ace in the hole that they can play with to carry forward unused cap money from 2008 into 2009 through a convenient little mechanism of phony incentives.

In the past, Matt Katula has had incentives written into his contract that are next to impossible for a long snapper to earn but because they are added during the season, they count immediately against the cap. After the season when a reconciliation of sorts takes place and it is obvious that the incentives have not been earned, they are carried forward into the next season.

Creating the space today gives the team some wiggle room to augment their roster and perhaps to sign Terrell Suggs to an extension – an extension that won’t come easy.

Suggs has the same agent (Gary Wichard) as Dwight Freeney and he will argue that their numbers are comparable and that Suggs is younger and more versatile. Wichard will also conveniently point to the new contract of Saints’ DE Will Smith who recently signed a seven-year, $63 million contract extension that includes $25 million in guaranteed money, according to NFL Network's Adam Schefter.

In four seasons the 26 year old Smith has accumulated 33 ½ sacks (8.4 avg.), 220 tackles (55), 13 forced fumbles (3.3), 14 passes defended (3.5), and no interceptions.

The 25 year old Suggs during his five year career has 45 sacks (9), 298 tackles (60), 14 forced fumbles (2.8), 22 passes defended (4.4) and he has 3 interceptions.

Ozzie, if Smith is the measuring stick and you want to keep Suggs long-term, get the check book ready.

Speaking of check books, here’s a sobering thought for those inclined to wager as we count down the days to summer camp…

According to the Ravens are 125:1 long shots to win Super Bowl XLIII. Now on the surface that might not seem so unreasonable given the team’s uncertainties at quarterback. But when measured up against the odds for other teams, you might be taken back a bit.

Only the Falcons and Dolphins have been assigned longer odds to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in Tampa come February. Both are listed at 150:1 while the Raiders and 49ers have been assigned the same odds as the Ravens. The over/under for Ravens’ regular season wins is six.

In case you were wondering listed the Giants at 30:1 to win Super Bowl XLII and the Giants’ over/under for regular season wins in 2007 was eight.

Let the debates begin on a beach, boat or poolside near you.