How the Ravens actually gained salary cap space with Monday’s moves

Ravens Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Ravens Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports /

The Baltimore Ravens made a pair of moves on Monday first signing running back Gus Edwards to a two-year, $10 million extension and then inking free-agent offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James to a two-year deal.

The Edwards extension was hardly a surprise given that general manager Eric DeCosta had expressed his desire to keep the fourth-year running in the mix long-term.

The James signing, on the other hand, was a complete surprise.

One might think that with such a busy day, the cap-strapped Ravens would have exhausted the majority of their remaining cap space with these two moves.

However, that belief couldn’t be further from the truth.

How did the Ravens create cap space with Monday’s moves?

Surprisingly, the Ravens actually managed to create additional cap space with their two moves on Monday. To understand how, we must first look at James’ contract.

The oft-injured James has played just three games since 2018 and, in all likelihood, will miss the 2021 season with a torn Achilles. The Ravens are hoping that he could return from injury in 2022 and figure into the offensive line plans next season.

But they’re not exactly betting the house on that happening.

James is guaranteed just $500,000 and holds a meager $250,000 cap hit in 2021. He isn’t expected to play this season, so the Ravens were never going to surrender precious cap space to sign him.

As for the 2022 season, nothing will come guaranteed. If he’s on the roster past the fifth day of the league year, James will be due a $500,000 roster bonus. If he makes the final roster, he’ll have a base salary of $2.5 million with a salary-cap hit of $3.25 million.

The majority of his deal, $5 million of the $9 million, will come in incentives he could earn in 2022. But Baltimore isn’t committing anything more than his initial $500,000 signing bonus.

Now on to Gus Edwards.

A restricted free agent this past offseason, the Ravens handed Edwards a second-round tender which meant that he was set to make $3.4 million this season.

Instead, he’ll now be playing under a shiny new two-year contract, one that comes with a signing bonus of $3.75 million — a figure that notably does not count against the cap.

His base salary in 2021 will be just $1 million and he’ll carry a cap hit of roughly $2.3 million. Essentially, that means the Ravens saved around $1.1 million by extending Edwards.

Subtract the $250,000 that James will count against the cap and you get a grand total savings of $884,000 as a result of the two moves.

Is that a lot? Not exactly, but every dollar counts for a team as desperate for cash as Baltimore is.

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If the Ravens want to go out and sign a player like Justin Houston, they still can. Not only do Monday’s moves not preclude them from doing so, but they actually help matters.