Carroll County Times

Ravens could have tough call to make on Suggs

Like last year, the Ravens could be forced to make some difficult personnel-related decisions to create some extra room under the salary cap.

Defensive lineman Haloti Ngata and running back Ray Rice are both unlikely to be released because of the dead money that would come along with releasing either of them, but Baltimore could have a tough call to make regarding outside linebacker Terrell Suggs.

What a player counts against the salary cap for a given year is determined by adding his base salary for that season with whatever the prorated portion of his bonus is for that year.

Bonus money is split up evenly over the length of a contract. If a player is released or traded, the remaining proration of the bonus money counts as dead money against that year's salary cap unless a player is released after June 1.

If a player is released or traded after June 1, the team has the option to spread out the dead money over the remaining years that were left on the players contract.

Suggs has just one season left on the six-year, $62.5 million contract he signed in 2009 that included a $10.1 million signing bonus, a $4 million roster bonus that he received in 2009 and a $23 option bonus that he received in 2010, according to

Suggs' cap number is $12.4 million, third-highest on the team behind only Ngata and quarterback Joe Flacco. But the remaining proration of his bonuses is just $4.6 million, so the Ravens would create $7.8 million of additional cap room by getting rid of Suggs.

The downside to that is that they would lose a Pro Bowl pass rusher.

The likely scenario is that Baltimore tries to get Suggs to agree to a restructured contract that lessens the cap hit for this season. Suggs may also be asked to simply take a pay cut - to lower his base salary, which would lower the amount he will count against the salary cap.

As far as Ngata, he signed a five-year contract in 2011 reportedly worth $61 million. That contract included a $25 million signing bonus and a $10 million option bonus that he received in 2012.

His cap number is $16 million for this season, the highest on Baltimore's roster, but the Ravens would create just $1 million of additional cap space if they cut him because the remaining proration of his bonus is $15 million.

They could split up the cap hit over the remaining two years on Ngata's contract if they release him after June 1, but they would then have $7.5 million of dead money counting against the salary cap in 2015.

Rice signed a five-year, $35 million contract in 2012 that included a $15 million signing bonus and a $7 million option bonus that he received last year.

Rice has a $4 million base salary, but he has three years left on his contract, and the remaining proration of his bonuses is $14.25 million.

Releasing Rice would cost Baltimore $10.25 million of the around just $13 million in salary cap space that it has.

Rice likely isn't in danger to be released until after the 2015 season.

The Ravens have several impending unrestricted free agents that they have expressed a desire to retain. Left tackle Eugene Monroe, tight end Dennis Pitta, inside linebacker Daryl Smith, defensive tackle Arthur Jones, safety James Ihedigbo and nickel back Corey Graham fall into that category.

But Baltimore has limited space under the salary cap, and the Ravens may have to part ways with some key players to make room for the players they deem as priorities, whether it be their own free agents or free agents from other teams.

It's a similar situation to last year, when Baltimore traded wide receiver Anquan Boldin, released safety Bernard Pollard and was unable to retain several of its own free agents because of having limited room under the salary cap.

Inside linebacker Jameel McClain, fullback Vonta Leach and punter Sam Koch are a few players aside from Suggs that the Ravens could consider releasing to create additional cap room.

Cutting McClain would create $3.2 million of additional cap room. Releasing Leach would create of $1.75 million of cap space. And cutting Koch would give Baltimore another $2.5 million of cap room.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh will meet with general manager Ozzie Newsome and others in the coming days to discuss personnel. Baltimore's brass will then meet in Florida shortly thereafter to put together a plan for the offseason and for what to do with players like Suggs, McClain, Leach and Koch.