In previous years there were roster spots for veterans that were considered safe, but that's not the case headed into 2012.
At least not after last year when the Ravens cut key veterans including tight end Todd Heap, receiver Derrick Mason, defensive tackle Kelly Gregg and running back Willis McGahee.
McGahee was expected to get waived because teams don't pay back up running backs $6 million, but there aren't as many obvious salary cap casualties this year. The Ravens have 13 unrestricted free agents and four restricted.
A top candidate to be cut would be cornerback Domonique Foxworth, who hasn't played the past two seasons because of a knee injury. Foxworth is expected to make $5.6 million in base salary in 2012.
The Ravens and Foxworth could restructure a new contract. The Ravens might want to restructure deals of some other players like linebacker Ray Lewis ($5 million in base salary in 2012, $6.85 million against the salary cap), safety Ed Reed ($7.2 million, $8.5 million), receiver Anquan Boldin ($6 million, $7.531 million) or outside linebacker Terrell Suggs ($4.9 million, $11.52 million).
But if you restructure too many deals now, you mortgage away the future like the Ravens did following 2001 with a roster purge.
A lot of the business minds over at the Castle are buzzing. Will some key veterans be let go again?
"Pat Moriarty runs our cap as well as anybody else out there," Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said. "We spend as much money as I'm allowed under the CBA under the salary cap rules, and when I say as much, I mean that we've never been under the salary cap. And there's different ways to look at that, because we can mortgage a lot with a credit card.
"So, what the credit card does for you is [it] allows you to get a complete team. But, if you use too much on credit, then you are going to have dead money in future years. If you're not careful, then you are going to have a lot of dead money on your salary cap."
The Ravens want to be competitive, but cautious.
Allen was better than Suggs
Congratulations to Suggs for being named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year. He had a career high 14 sacks and forced seven fumbles in a great season.
But I still would have voted for Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen. Suggs, who played for one of the better defenses in the league, had three sacks in three different games against marginal offensive tackles while Allen had 22, a half sack short of the season record set by former New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan.
To produce those numbers playing for a sorry Minnesota team (3-13) showed the motor and true greatness of a player that could have easily started mailing it in around midseason.
It's time to bump and bump
I think the Ravens should adopt the philosophy of New England coach Bill Belichick. It's apparent that officials allow a lot of contact in the postseason games, and the Patriots cornerbacks mugged the Ravens and Giants receivers in their past two playoff games.
Belichick would rather take a penalty instead of giving up a big play, and New England almost pulled off another Super Bowl victory Sunday with one of the worst secondary's in the NFL.
If I were Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, I'd turn cornerbacks Jimmy Smith, Cary Williams and Lardarius Webb loose in the playoffs.
No expansion needed
The NFL shouldn't add games, or teams.
It's already a watered-down league with a shortage of quality quarterbacks, and a lot of teams are limping into the playoffs with numerous injuries.
In looking back over this season, you really don't get quality football until the Divisional playoff games and afterward. Until that point, it's a comedy of errors which lends more credence to former Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda once saying, "more games are lost than won on Sundays because of mistakes."
Schwartz more deserving
San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, the younger brother of the Ravens head coach, was the NFL Coach of the Year, but I would have given it to Detroit Lions coach — and Baltimore area native — Jim Schwartz.
The 49ers had the players, but they needed some direction after dealing with former head coach Mike Singletary. Jim Harbaugh did an incredible job with quarterback Alex Smith and rebuilding the confidence of tight end Vernon Davis.
But Schwartz went into Detroit three years ago when, if the economy didn't depress you, the play of the Lions would. And for him to get the Lions back into the postseason for the first time in 11 years is remarkable.
Even Steelers fans
I don't know if center Matt Birk is going to be playing for the Ravens next season, but we'll miss his humor. While accepting the NFL's Man of the Year Award given for off-the-field community service as well as playing excellence, Birk had a little good natured fun with rival Pittsburgh.
"I want to thank every parent, godparent, aunt or uncle, big brother or sister, baby sitter, even Steelers fans — anyone who has helped instill reading," Birk said. "This is for you, God Bless."