Four years after the Ravens drafted Pernell McPhee in the fifth round out of Mississippi State, the outside linebacker is expected to leave the organization as a free agent.
On Tuesday, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome acknowledged the reality that McPhee is unlikely to return considering that the team is unwilling to pay full market value to keep him.
Although he was a situational pass rusher last season, McPhee is regarded as one of the top free agents this offseason. He is projected to command an annual salary between $8 million and $10 million when free agency starts March 10 and isn't going to return to Baltimore, according to NFL sources. The Oakland Raiders, Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts are regarded as potential fits for McPhee.
McPhee, whose four-year, $2.2 million rookie contract is expiring, had 7.5 sacks last season working behind outside linebackers Elvis Dumervil (17 sacks) and Terrell Suggs (12) while playing roughly half of the Ravens' defensive snaps.
"I think you have to look at it this way: If we were to go after the market on Pernell, how many other players would we not have on the Baltimore Ravens?" Newsome said Tuesday during the team's end-of-season news conference in Owings Mills. "That's kind of the way we look at this thing.
"Will we pay market for some players? Yes. We paid market for [quarterback] Joe [Flacco, $120.6 million], [left tackle] Eugene [Monroe, $37.5 million], [right guard] [Marshal] Yanda [$32 million]. But we have to look at it that we can't pay everybody market value because it will hurt our roster overall in trying to retain the other guys that can go out in the market."
McPhee had 64 quarterback pressures last season and 24 quarterback hits while lining up everywhere from nose tackle to defensive end.
Last year, former Ravens defensive tackle Arthur Jones was signed by the Indianapolis Colts to a five-year, $33 million contract with $16 million guaranteed. And Ravens linebackers Paul Kruger (five years, $40.5 million, $13 million guaranteed) and Dannell Ellerbe (five years, $35 million, $14 million guaranteed) signed with the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins, respectively, two years ago.