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Tagging Suggs likely limits Ravens in free agency

For Ravens fans, there is good news and bad news regarding the team's plan to put the franchise tag on defensive star Terrell Suggs if a long-term deal can't be worked out.

The good news is that Suggs stays with the team for the 2008 season. And hopefully, it gives both sides some breathing room to negotiate a longer contract.  The bad news is, as The Sun's Ravens writer Jamison Hensley points out, the $8 million-and-change that Suggs will be entitled to (as an average of the five highest-paid linebackers in the NFL) would reportedly push the Ravens beyond the salary cap.  The Ravens reportedly only have between $5-6 million in cap space.

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That means that the Ravens will have to restructure some existing contracts to afford Suggs, but it also means they won't be much of a player in free agency.  Actually, that's not much of a surprise.  Baltimore has not generally been involved in the land rush start of free agency when the big bucks get tossed around.

It would also tend to dampen any notions that the Ravens can afford to trade for Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, who, according to the most recent numbers I've seen, is worth about $9.6 million as a cap hit in 2008 (be mindful that cap figures are usually unofficial as the NFL and teams don't release those numbers as a rule).

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Bottom line on this:  If there's any new help on the way, it will be from lesser-known free agents who are relatively cheap and from the draft.  Plus, of course, guys already on the roster simply getting either better or coming back from injuries.


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