Harbaugh optimistic Ravens can retain key playmakers
The Baltimore Ravens success in the NFL draft comes at a price.
Many of those young players have evolved into one of the best athletes at their respective positions.
That means many of these players put themselves in position for a huge payday when they are allowed to test the free-agent market.
The Ravens have two key players —left tackle Ronnie Stanley and cornerback Marlon Humphrey — about to play out their rookie deals. Baltimore might have to shell out the cash to keep both of them on the roster.
The Ravens already placed the franchise tag on linebacker Matt Judon, a fifth-round pick in the 2015 NFL draft, that will cost them $16.8 million this season.
Quarterback and reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson will also be looking for a megadeal when his rookie contract expires.
Harbaugh said the team should be able to absorb the costs of these types of players because they've done a solid job managing their salary cap.
"We’ll keep as many guys as we can. I am very optimistic about the fact that we have a good cap situation going forward," Harbaugh said. "We have not been in good cap shape for the last six, seven years. Every year we’ve been behind the eight-ball with the cap, and that’s just the way it was. This year was a little better. Next year will be a lot better. With that, we’ll have to sign guys, but we’ll have money, too.
"I’m very optimistic that Eric [DeCosta] and his crew will just do an amazing job of figuring out the numbers. Hopefully, the agents will work with us, so we’ll put it in perspective. We’ll keep the guys we can and the guys that we can’t, we’ll replace. We’ll keep building what we’re doing here. I’m really confident, though, that a lot of these players want to be back. I know we want them back. So, I think that we’ll get a high number of these guys back.”
In the end, Harbaugh says players looking for big paydays is a good problem because that means they've performed well over the years. He hopes to keep that momentum moving forward.
The more shots you hit in the middle of the fairway, the cleaner the shots are going forward," Harbaugh said. "That would be drafting good players, and we’ve done that. We’ve drafted a lot of good players. We’ve developed them very well; the guys have fit in.
"I’m pretty sure that last year and the year before, everybody wasn’t talking about how talented we were or what a great roster we had. I think the guys have just done better than they were expected to do. That’s a plus for us and a good problem to have.