When the Ravens restructured starting cornerback Lardarius Webb's $50 million contract this week, they did so with more than one thought in mind.
By lowering Webb's base salary from $7.5 million to $3.5 million by converting the $4 million into a signing bonus, the Ravens created $3 million in salary cap space for this year to gain some necessary financial flexibility.
Now, the Ravens are $7.463 million under the NFL salary cap limit. That provides them with the ability to absorb a veteran contract via a potential trade. The extra cap space also allows them to have more room once the offseason rule of 51 ends when the regular season starts and they have 53 salaries counting against the salary cap in addition to the players on injured reserve and up to 10 upcoming practice-squad contracts.
However, the adjustment to Webb's contract didn't mean that the Ravens are on the verge of contract extension for any of their current players, according to multiple sources.
Sources said the Ravens aren't close to a deal with wide receiver Torrey Smith, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata or Pro Bowl kicker Justin Tucker at this time. Smith is the most likely candidate for the next big contract from the Ravens because he's entering the final year of his contract, but sources indicated that talks haven't advanced quickly with the former Maryland standout.
New contracts for Ngata and Tucker rank lower on the Ravens' priority list because Ngata is under contract for the next two seasons at $8.5 million per year. His contract status is expected to be revisited after the season after restructure conversations went nowhere earlier this offseason. Tucker can be retained as a restricted free agent after this season.
The Ravens are monitoring both the waiver wire as Saturday's NFL roster cutdown deadline looms and are prepared to explore trade scenarios, most likely to acquire a cornerback. Whether a deal will unfold remains to be seen, but the Ravens are more than receptive to the possibility if they can upgrade their depth at cornerback even after signing veteran cornerback Derek Cox to a one-year, $730,000 contract that counts $570,000 against the salary cap under the veteran minimum salary benefit.
The top 12 salary cap figures on the Ravens for this season are: Ngata ($16 million), quarterback Joe Flacco ($14.8 million), running back Ray Rice ($8.75 million), Pro Bowl offensive guard Marshal Yanda ($8.45 million), Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs ($7.8 million), Webb ($7.504 million), outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil ($3.375 million), tight end Dennis Pitta ($3.2 million), offensive tackle Eugene Monroe ($3.2 million), defensive tackle Chris Canty ($3.166 million), punter Sam Koch ($2.8 million) and middle linebacker Daryl Smith ($2.475 million).