Sat, 17 Apr 2021

Late for Work 2/25: Will Brandon Williams Be a Salary-Cap Cut

Baltimore Ravens
26 Feb 2021, 04:25 GMT+10

Kevin Eck

Will Brandon Williams Be a Salary-Cap Cut?

Brandon Williams has been a huge part of the Ravens defense for years, both literally and figuratively, but there's no guarantee the 6-foot-1, 336-pound nose tackle will be playing in Baltimore next season.

The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote that beyond the restructuring of a few contracts, the most logical way for the Ravens to get a chunk of cap space is to waive Williams, who carries a heavy $14.4 million cap hit.

Zrebiec also noted that it would be less than ideal for the Ravens not to have the 32-year-old clogging up the middle.

"[Waiving Williams] would mean $7.5 million in cap savings," Zrebiec wrote. "It would also create a hole in the middle of the defensive line. ...The team's top decision-makers are well aware that the run defense has struggled significantly when Williams has been out.

"They understand the importance of Williams in keeping blockers off middle linebacker Patrick Queen and absorbing double teams. They value Williams' leadership. They also know that jettisoning Williams would create another need."

Oh and, not to mention, he's long been a fan favorite.

Even though parting ways with Williams, who the Ravens selected in the third round in 2013, is something the team prefers to avoid, Zrebiec said that keeping him will be a challenge given the Ravens' salary-cap situation.

"What if the Ravens lose the Earl Thomas grievance this offseason? What if the prices for a few of the free agents they covet trend much higher than they expect?" Zrebiec wrote. "What if a host of players become available that they didn't expect to have a chance to sign? What if the Ravens decide they simply can't do everything they need to do with the current $18 million of salary cap space they have?

"A higher salary cap would make it easier to keep Williams. There's a lot of variables the Ravens have to consider."

Another option regarding Williams would be to extend him to ease some of the 2021 cost.

Ravens Should Target Free-Agent TE Jonnu Smith Instead of a No. 1 Wide Receiver

Any discussion about what the Ravens need to do this offseason to improve their passing game inevitably begins with the assertion that they need to sign an elite wide receiver.

Football Outsiders has a different take and says the Ravens should sign free-agent tight end Jonnu Smith.

"What if Lamar Jackson's playing style simply isn't conducive to a traditional passing offense? And how much would a single, presumably high-priced wideout really change, when the rest of the personnel and scheme remains enslaved to a power rushing attack?" Football Outsiders wrote on ESPN.com. Moreover, would the likes of Allen Robinson or Kenny Golladay want to block as much as the Ravens' offense would require?

"Instead, Baltimore should lean even further into its unique style, which works best when multiple pass-catching tight ends are on the field. Trading Hayden Hurst made sense last offseason, but his absence was felt, as was the loss of blocking tight end Nick Boyle to injury. Smith, who was multidimensional in a run-first attack in Tennessee, would be a snug fit who could fill both roles and give opponents fits when teamed with Boyle and Mark Andrews in three-tight sets. When the entire football commentariat says to do one thing, the best move might be to zag in the other direction."

With the Tennessee Titans last season, Smith, 25, set career-highs with 41 catches for 448 yards and eight touchdowns. He scored a touchdown against the Ravens in the AFC divisional playoff game in January 2020 and in a regular-season game last year.

Orlando Brown Jr.'s Future Could Impact What Ravens Do in First Round

What position the Ravens will target with the 27th-overall pick could hinge on how the Orlando Brown Jr. situation plays out.

"If he is traded before the draft, the Ravens might be forced into drafting an offensive lineman, more specifically a new right tackle, with their first pick," The Baltimore Sun's Daniel Oyefusi wrote. "If Brown is still on the roster by then, they could still take an interior lineman but could also use an edge rusher - five of their own are slated to hit free agency - or even a wide receiver if a prospect they like falls to No. 27."

The Baltimore Sun's Jonas Shaffer wrote: "If the Ravens get another first-round pick for Brown, they must come out of the first or second round with an offensive tackle. That goes without saying."

Zrebiec says the Ravens should use their 2007 draft as a template as they look to rebuild their offensive line.

"The Ravens used the No. 29 overall pick in 2007 to select Ben Grubbs, a guard out of Auburn," Zrebiec wrote. "Grubbs played in all but six games over five seasons for the Ravens, made a Pro Bowl and was everything you'd want out of a first-round pick. He was steady, durable, reliable and productive.

"The Ravens, who traded out of the second round, then used one of their two third-round picks on Iowa guard/tackle Marshal Yanda. Over the course of 13 seasons in Baltimore, Yanda started 166 games, made eight Pro Bowls and was one of the top interior offensive linemen of his era. He's probably the second-best offensive lineman in team history, behind first-ballot Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden."

Even if Brown isn't traded, the Ravens probably still need to draft an offensive tackle, although not necessarily in the first round, Zrebiec wrote.

Ex-Raven Ryan Jensen Won't Be a Salary-Cap Cut, Bucs GM Says

Tampa Bay Buccaneers center Ryan Jensen has been mentioned as a potential salary-cap cut, which led to speculation that the Ravens might be interested in reuniting with him.

However, Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht threw cold water on the suggestion that the fiery Jensen will be playing anywhere but Tampa Bay next season. He said the Buccaneers plan on keeping Jensen as well as left tackle Donovan Smith, via multiple reports.

The Ravens selected Jensen in the sixth round in 2013. After becoming the Ravens' starting center in 2017, Jensen signed a deal with Tampa Bay the following season that made him the highest-paid center in the league at the time.

Quick Hits

The Ravens' 47-42 win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 14 was No. 1 on NFL Network's Top 10 games of the 2020 season. At No. 7 was the Ravens' 30-24 overtime loss to the Titans in Week 11.

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