The Ravens will get some salary cap relief from the Houston Texans on Monday. Soon after, the team will help itself.
Quarterback Elvis Grbac's five-year, $30 million contract is likely to be restructured, with negotiations possibly starting late next week.
Grbac will receive a $6 million roster bonus if he is on the team March 2, in addition to his $1.5 million base salary for the 2002 season. The Ravens could release Grbac before then and just be responsible for his salary last season, but management has expressed no desire to exercise such an option.
The Ravens could look to reduce Grbac's roster bonus or base salary for next season - possibly shifting the money to the later years of the contract - to lower their cap number. A player's cap figure is his base salary plus the prorated portion of any signing bonus over the length of the contract.
"Over the next couple of weeks, my agent, [Ravens senior vice president of football operations] Ozzie [Newsome] and the Ravens' organization will sit down and probably try to work something out," Grbac said. "With the salary cap issues, I'm sure I'm one of the players they will come to for help.
"I will do everything to try and help the organization."
Just how much will Grbac be willing to bend?
"We'll determine that by sitting down and talking about it," he said.
Only the signing bonus of a player's contract is guaranteed. Grbac received a $5 million signing bonus last March with the expectation that he would get the additional $6 million by merely being on the roster this March.
"With me coming here last year and having that option, I put myself on a limb and trusted the organization," Grbac said. "I know a lot of other players would not have done that. I did that with good faith that I would be back the next year."
The Ravens will lose linebacker Jamie Sharper to the Texans on Monday in the expansion draft and might also lose return specialist Jermaine Lewis. If both players are selected, that would clear a little more than $7 million from a team that is roughly $22 million over the $71 million salary cap.
The Ravens could turn to restructuring some of the more well-paid players' contracts, like offensive tackle Leon Searcy, before having to release players outright
"We're going to do whatever we can, prudently, to maximize our room under the cap," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Like every other team, you'll see hundreds of restructures over the next month. And certainly that could be a part of what we do in dealing with Elvis, just like every other player."