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Ask the Cap Man: Stanley, Madubuike, “Cap Reset” & More

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By: Brian McFarland

QUESTION: I’ve heard a lot of speculation regarding franchise tagging Justin Madubuike. Is that $20 million number feasible given the current cap situation? Are there enough restructures in play to tag him and still retain a few other FA/sign others?

ANSWER: If a team wants to keep a player badly enough, they can generally find a way to do so. When most reports indicated that the Cap would be in the $242-245M range, that was going to be difficult, but possible via cuts and restructures. Now that the Cap has been announced at $255.4M, it will be much easier, not just to use the Tag on Madubuike, but also to possibly retain some players who might have otherwise been cut in order to create Cap space. It could also mean that they might not have to restructure a contract (or two) that they would rather not have to or possibly add void years, both of which create Cap space this year at the expense of future Cap space.

Obviously, reaching a long-term deal with Madubuike would be more preferable to using the Tag, but if need be, they now have more flexibility to use the Tag. I think at this point it would be a huge upset if Madubuike, one way or another, isn’t on the team in 2024.

QUESTION: With Ronnie Stanley‘s health & play questions, is a restructure more likely to open up more cap space or keep him at his current number to keep 2025 as a safe out?

ANSWER: The Ravens have already restructured Stanley’s contract twice, which is part of the reason why his 2024 and 2025 Cap numbers are so high. This is the drawback to constantly restructuring deals and Stanley’s 2024 bonus prorations are now over $11M. This is what causes dead money and what makes it harder for teams to move on from underperforming players. With just this year and next remaining on his contract, it’s unlikely that the Ravens would want to do another salary to bonus (“simple”) restructure.

More than likely they will instead approach Stanley about a paycut to reduce his Cap number. With $15M due in cash in 2024, it seems unlikely that Stanley will remain here under the present terms of his deal. Given that Stanley is unlikely to get $15M cash from another team in 2024, the Ravens will likely use that as leverage to get Stanley to agree to reduce his pay. In order to persuade Stanley to do so, any such paycut would likely come with incentives that would allow Stanley to earn back what he is giving up making it more palatable to Stanley.

That said, with no heir apparent at LT, the team has to be careful to negotiate a deal that works for both sides. If they can’t, then there’s a good chance that Stanley will be released with a post-June 1 designation. This would allow the Ravens to split the dead money from his release between 2024 and 2025 and would create $15M in Cap savings that will be available on June 2.

QUESTION: Is Gus Edwards’ dead cap hit substantial enough where if he isn’t re-signed before 2/19, it is likely he is gone? 

ANSWER: The odds of Edwards’ return likely improved when the substantial Cap increase was announced. The voiding of his contract caused $1.84M in dead money to accelerate on the 2024 Cap. Obviously, it would have been better to get a deal done before the void date, but I don’t think they will stop them from re-signing him if they can find a deal that works for both sides.  Earlier this week Eric DeCosta said “we’re still talking to Gus” so it seems that they are still trying to get a deal done. This is another situation where the sizeable increase in the Cap may make it easier for the Ravens to justify re-signing after Edwards despite the “extra” $1.84M in dead money on the Cap from the void years.

QUESTION: What are your thoughts on taking a cap reset year? I know it won’t happen with Lamar in his prime but it seems like we’ll never get caught up with restructuring and void years. As a PSL owner I prefer to have a bad season with hope of improving than a string of average years. 

ANSWER: I think you pretty much answered the question for me – teams usually do not do a reset when they have a star QB in his prime. In fact, they usually do the opposite: they restructure and extend the QB’s contract and other deals to keep that window open as long as possible. There’s also the prospect of Jackson’s Cap number exploding in 2026 (though they may well do an extension before then). As such, 2024 and 2025 are still his “cheap” years and the Ravens are likely more inclined to push their Cap to the limit and possibly “reset” in 2026 or after. Also, again with the increase in the Cap, there’s really no need to reset at this time.

And if the Salary Cap sees future increases on the same range as 2024, a reset might not be needed any time soon.

The post Ask the Cap Man: Stanley, Madubuike, “Cap Reset” & More appeared first on Russell Street Report.

Originally posted on Russell Street Report