The Baltimore Ravens made their first significant move of the offseason Wednesday, when they cut returner Jacoby Jones. You can expect a lot more from the Ravens as they free up salary-cap space before the start of free agency on March 10.
Here are six moves that could create over $15 million in cap space:
DE Chris Canty: Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Tuesday that he hasn't talked to Canty about whether he's going to retire, but it probably doesn't matter. There's little chance of Canty returning because of the Ravens' depth at defensive line and need for cap space. Cap savings: $2.66 million.
OL Gino Gradkowski: A performance escalator (Gradkowski was a starter in 2013) increased his base salary to $1.695 million, which is too high for a little-used backup. Cap savings: $1.574 million.
LB Albert McClellan: He's a core special-teams player, so there is a chance that McClellan remains. But, if the Ravens desperately need cap room, he is the next obvious player to go. Cap savings: $1 million.
CB Lardarius Webb: In a perfect world, the Ravens could get Webb to take a pay cut. His $8 million salary is too expensive for an average cornerback. But Webb knows the Ravens won't cut him because the team is vulnerable at cornerback. The likely move is restructuring Webb's deal like last year, when they converted a chunk of his base salary into a bonus and spread the hit over the remaining years of his contract. Cap savings: Potentially $3 million.
DT Haloti Ngata: The only certainty is Ngata won't play under his current contract. His $16 million cap number, which is tops on the team, has to be reduced. Harbaugh expressed optimism at the NFL combine last week that an extension will get done with Ngata. That would give some cap relief to the Ravens and allow Ngata a chance to retire as a Raven. If the sides can't reach an agreement in 12 days, the Ravens will be forced to cut the five-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman. Cap savings: $5 million (extension) or $8.5 million (if cut).
G Marshal Yanda: As I previously wrote, this is a win-win situation. The Ravens can make sure they'll have one of the NFL's best offensive linemen for the next four to five years, and Yanda can get the opportunity to be a Raven for life. Yanda is 30 and has shown no signs of wearing down. Cornerback Jimmy Smith and punter Sam Koch are also candidates for extensions, but Ngata and Yanda are the ones that have the best chance to get done before March 10. Cap savings: Around $2 million.