As the AFC North champion Ravens chase a Super Bowl berth heading into Sunday's AFC championship game against the New England Patriots, their offseason outlook is beginning to crystallize.
As we wrote earlier this week, it will be difficult for the Ravens to retain their top defensive unrestricted free agents like Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe and Cary Williams because of a tight salary-cap situation with 42 contract charges for next season for total cap commitments of $107.396 million.
That includes $1.8 million in dead money for released former Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff and carrying over $1.182 million in salary-cap space from this season. That figure doesn't include a potential $14.6 million franchise tender for quarterback Joe Flacco or pending restricted free agent tenders for players like tight ends Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson, defensive end Arthur Jones and long snapper Morgan Cox.
The Ravens will realize $4.35 million in cap savings with middle linebacker Ray Lewis' retirement, but the salary cap limit of $120.6 million isn't expected to increase much for next season.
So, the Ravens are expected to be as much as $5 million over the salary cap before even potentially using the franchise tag on Flacco, which would place them as much as $20 million over. Restructuring hefty contracts for Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata would help the situation.
And getting a long-term deal done for Flacco would help the situation immensely. However, the two sides haven't negotiated since August when they hit an impasse and aren't close on money at this time.
Talks between Flacco's agent, Joe Linta, and Ravens vice president of football operations Pat Moriarty are expected to pick up during the offseason.
The NFL deadline to use the franchise tag is March 4, and the free agency signing period begins March 12.
Here are the Ravens' top salary-cap figures for 2013:
Player Base salary Salary-cap figure
Terrell Suggs $6.4 million $13.02 million
Haloti Ngata $4 million $11.5 million
Anquan Boldin $6 million $7.531 million
Marshal Yanda $4.5 million $7.45 million
Ray Lewis $5.4 million $7.3 million
Ray Rice $8 million $5.75 million
Lardarius Webb $7.385 million $5.385 million
Jacoby Jones $4 million $4.9 million
Vonta Leach $3 million $4.33 million
Michael Oher $3.085 million $4.255 million
Jameel McClain $3 million $4.2 million
Matt Birk $2.75 million $3.45 million
Bernard Pollard $2.5 million $3.25 million