Value Relative to Cap
It’s time to take stock of the Ravens roster again.
I like to split the roster into 5 qualitative categories relative to the ultimate master, the salary cap. Note all snap numbers and percentages combine regular and postseason play.
Young Producers (4): Anthony Averett*, Deshon Elliott*, Justin Madubuike, Odafe Oweh
These are players on their first contract who are already starting (or should be) and are playing well. A team needs as many of these players as possible to continually outperform the salary cap.
Odafe Oweh has burst on the scene with 68% of snaps played and been a plus run defender and pass rusher. Anthony Averett has joined the group playing full time RCB after the injury to Marcus Peters.
Both Averett and Deshon Elliott will be UFAs at the end of the season as the amazing 2018 draft class will be seeking 2nd contracts.
Developmental (9): Jaylon Ferguson, Malik Harrison, Daelin Hayes, Patrick Queen, Brandon Stephens, Geno Stone, Ar’Darius Washington, Broderick Washington, Chris Westry
These players are all still on their rookie deals, but something is holding them back from consistent performance, a starting role, or both. We hope that most, if not all, of these players will emerge to be young producers quickly. In truth, some are running out of time to do so. By the start of next season, the Ravens will need to get younger defensively with a heavier draft emphasis as they shift cap dollars from defense to offense to meet looming cornerstone deal for Jackson.
Let’s take a look individually at the Developmental group to see why I have tagged them as I have and what each needs to do to move up:
- Ferguson: He has been active for just 1 game and played 10 snaps. The COVID deactivation did not help his stock with the organization, but he’s also got competition for snaps that will intensify when Hayes returns.
- Harrison: His WLB snaps have been cut with the insertion of Bynes at MLB and move of Queen to Will. He’d been averaging 28 snaps per game, but has played just 26 the last 2.
- Hayes: His return is one of the ways the defense can hope to improve over the remainder of the season.
- Queen: He has dropped from the young producer category, but his play the last 2 games at WLB lends hope he’ll be aproductive player.
- Stephens: He filled in for Elliott during his absence and plays a high-leverage role in the Ravens dime package. The Ravens may have him pegged for the FS of the future.
- Stone: After a terrific preseason, Stone has played just 12 snaps.
- Washington, Ar’Darius: He’s played just 2 snaps and been inactive most weeks, but he’s important SCB depth and may compete for a starting role in 2022.
- Washington, Broderick: He has flashed as a run defender in limited duty, but with the looming departures of Campbell and Williams, his spot for 2022 seems secure.
- Westry: He played 30 snaps against the Raiders in week 1 but has been on IR since. He’s another player who could help the team if he returns this season.
The Ravens will need to have more young players step into starting roles over the next year and it is a good start that each of their developmental players are in either year 1 or 2 except Ferguson (year 3).
Veterans Playing for Market Value (13): Chris Board*, Tyus Bowser, Josh Bynes*, Calais Campbell*, Chuck Clark, Justin Ellis*, Justin Houston*, Marlon Humphrey, Anthony Levine*, Pernell McPhee*, Jimmy Smith*, Brandon Williams*, Derek Wolfe
Note: A “*” indicates a player who is a UFA at the beginning of the league year.
A large chunk of the cap is spent on this group and these players are the ones (generally) who are worth it. This group includes 9 players who will be UFAs this offseason.
Brandon Williams is a special case, because his cap hit for 2021 is certainly a value problem, but also a sunk cost.
Veteran Cap/Value Concerns (2): Marcus Peters, Tavon Young
The Ravens reduced Young’s 2021 salary he’s been a bright spot, playing every snap vs 3+ WR sets and providing playmaking. However, his base salary for 2022 is $5.845M, which makes him a possible cap casualty.
The loss of Marcus Peters before the regular season has been a significant blow to a team that seemed to have bountiful CB depth. Interestingly, the Ravens have yet to fully restructure Peters’ contract for cap space the team desperately needs in 2021. That may be an indication he will be a cap casualty prior to 2022 (when he has a base salary of $10M).
Transitional (7): Otaro Alaka, Aaron Crawford, Khalil Dorsey, LJ Fort, Xavier Kelly, Iman Marshall, Kristian Welch
I see no sure future as a broad contributor for any of these players, but it’s likely 1 or more will emerge to play somewhere. Based on a combination of need, age, and tools I think Crawford, Kelly, and Welch have the best chance to help the Ravens.
Special thanks to Brian McFarland, to whose contract details I referred frequently while writing these pieces.