Ravens GM Eric DeCosta expecting 2021 salary cap to be between $175M-$180M

Matthew Stevens
·2 min read

The offseason is once again upon the NFL as all but two teams are out of contention. Front offices are managing their rosters, looking at pending free agents, and really starting to focus on the 2021 NFL draft. But this offseason is unlike many before it as no one really knows what the salary cap is going to look like.

With the coronavirus pandemic impacting league revenue, the 2021 salary cap is expected to go down for the first time in over a decade after growing by $10 million last year. With all the uncertainty around how much money each team will have to spend, it’s creating quite a bit of anxiety about the offseason.

The common theme of Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta’s end-of-season press conference on Monday was one of conjecture. While DeCosta has never been one to reveal too much of his strategy in these discussions, seemingly every answer was presented with an asterisk thanks to the unknown salary cap. Whether it was about free agency or what cuts could be coming in the next few months, DeCosta kept everything vague while pointing back to the salary cap.

“So, as far as that goes with the salary cap, there are some unique challenges this year with not even knowing what the cap is going to be,” DeCosta said during his video conference with reporters Monday. “The cap could be $175 [million] [or] $185 [million] – we don’t really know yet. That’s going to pose some problems.”

As I discussed in my preview of Baltimore’s salary cap, the Ravens are one of only a handful of teams that actually have positive cap space available right now. Nearly half the league is staring at a negative number based on current predictions of a $176 million salary cap. But just because Baltimore has money to spend doesn’t mean they’re flush with cash either.

“We anticipate that number being somewhere between $15-20 million,” DeCosta continued. “However, that’s not a lot of money in the grand scheme of things, and that’s based on a projection of between $175 million and $180 million dollars of salary cap room.”

If the salary cap is limited as expected, the free-agent market could be far more interesting as well. If teams don’t have money to spend, top free agents could be willing to sign short-term deals with Super Bowl contenders in order to boost their value when the cap eventually does return to normal. Of course, creative general managers could double down on the hopes the salary cap booms next offseason by backloading contracts.

Regardless of what the 2021 salary cap ends up being, DeCosta and the Ravens’ front office appear to have some plans in place. Hopefully, Baltimore has a little more money to spend than they’re predicting and can add more talent to an already impressive roster.