The Ravens are coming off of a 5-11 season, have the worst salary cap situation in the NFL with a load of dead money, and they are doing what they can do position themselves to make some moves.
General Manager Ozzie Newsome typically likes to wait a few days after the free agency period begins to let prices go down, but that was not the case early this week when it was announced that the Ravens had signed tight end Benjamin Watson to a two year, $7 million contract.
Watson, 35, was the 32nd overall pick by the New England Patriots in the 2004 NFL Draft. He has also played for the Cleveland Browns and New Orleans Saints during his career. Last season with the Saints, Watson had career highs in receptions (74), and receiving yards (825).
With Dennis Pitta’s likely retirement, Nick Boyle’s 10 game suspension and the uncertainty surrounding the health of Crockett Gillmore ( two shoulder surgeries) heading into training camp, the Ravens needed to address the tight end position. Watson is a reliable, cheap veteran who will help lead the young group of tight ends, which includes Gillmore, Boyle and Maxx Williams.
Because of the Ravens’ difficult cap situation, veterans are stepping up to help the team create more cap space. Guard Marshall Yanda restructured his contract, which was redone during the 2015 season, to create around $4 million of cap space. Cornerback Jimmy Smith restructured his contract as well to give the Ravens $6 million more cap dollars to work with. Cornerback Kyle Arrington also reportedly took a pay-cut.
Earlier this week the Ravens were able to bring back cornerback Shareece Wright and long snapper Morgan Cox. Wright signed a three year, $16 million deal with $5 million guaranteed. The exact figure of Cox’s contract is unknown.
Wright was signed by the Ravens after week 5 last season after he was cut by the 49ers. Wright struggled in his first start (which was against the niners, by the way), but improved as the season went on and was actually the Ravens’ best cornerback in the second half of the season.
Wright is longtime best friends with Jimmy Smith. The two went to high school together and have great chemistry both on and off the field.
Now with the addition of Watson and the maneuvering of cap money, the Ravens will look to improve several areas of the roster. The big spending of free agency may be over, but this is where Ozzie thrives the most. Look for the Ravens to make some moves in the coming days.