The emergence of Pernell McPhee as one of the best pass rushers in the NFL last season creates another salary cap headache for the Baltimore Ravens who will find it very difficult to hold on to him in free agency while there’s so much interest coming from the Atlanta Falcons, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns and the Indianapolis Colts.
According to Pro Football Focus, McPhee was the number two outside linebacker in the league among 3-4 defenses. He finished with a career high 7.5 sacks, which might be attributed to more playing time and improving as a player, but stranger things have happened to players on contract seasons.
The Ravens have to think about the expiring contracts of Torrey Smith and Justin Forsett while dealing with a very tight salary cap situation. There’s always the franchise tag possibility, but tagging McPhee, who is likely to command a deal worth at least $8 million a season (probably trying to push for $10 million) will cost them $13.9 million. Smith is going to cost $12 million and Forsett will be priced at $10.9 million.
McPhee, 26, was making $2.2 million over the four years of his rookie deal after coming in from Mississippi State through the fifth round, being the 165th overall pick in 2011. Unless the Ravens can start restructuring deals and trying to find a way to make this work, the most likely scenario is McPhee leaving them for nothing and playing for one of the teams mentioned in the first paragraph.