Eric DeCosta has been the Baltimore Ravens’ general manager for a little over a month now. In that short amount of time, DeCosta stamped his personal philosophy on the Ravens organization. The DeCosta philosophy is similar to Ozzie Newsome’s, but with one major caveat so far. DeCosta is stressing the importance of keeping young talented players on the roster. He expressed his wish to do so in his opening press conference a few weeks ago. Newsome always tried to keep these players but was willing to let them walk if they found a better deal. Extending Tavon Young’s contract is the first domino to fall in this new campaign to keep talented young players. It prevents Young from hitting free agency and locks him up until 2022.
The deal, according to ESPN’s Field Yates, is constructed in a way that allows the Ravens to sustain a small hit to the salary cap, and for Tavon Young to get paid hard earned cash. Yates reports that Tavon Young’s contract extension consists of a $10 million signing bonus, and three additional years of around $5.5 million in value. Baltimore will likely spread the signing bonus payments out over time, in order to not clog the salary cap in one year. With the $10 million signing bonus and $3 million of guaranteed money spread out over the first two years, the Ravens are giving Tavon Young $13 million in guaranteed money. This guaranteed money will be paid to Young no matter what circumstances arise. This includes him being released from the roster.
With the new contract, Young becomes the highest paid slot cornerback in the NFL.
Many may question whether or not Tavon Young is worth the money. Some, like Matthew Stevens of USA Today’s Ravens Wire, suggests that the move is bad for Baltimore. He writes that “I’m not entirely sure why the Ravens signed Young this early at this point. General manager Eric DeCosta has reiterated how he wanted to be smarter with the salary cap moving forward. But he’s taking a huge gamble Young will suddenly be healthy and elevate his play — two things he hasn’t done since his rookie season in 2016. If either of those doesn’t happen, the Ravens have another bad contract on the books until 2021.”
What Stevens does not address is the amount of cap space the Baltimore Ravens will have over the next few years. One can recognize that Tavon Young is only due $1 million in base salary in 2019. He will make more in 2020 because the Ravens will have much more cap space. By 2020, Baltimore will cease paying Joe Flacco, Eric Weddle will be off the roster, and Jimmy Smith will likely be gone as well. That will free up a huge amount of cap space, and in the process necessitate a rebuild of the secondary. By making sure one of the league’s best slot cornerbacks is on the team until 2022, the Ravens can keep together key pieces of a unit that is be needed now more than ever in this pass-happy league.
Through the deal, Eric DeCosta has made good his promise to keep young and talented players. Tavon Young has had run-ins with injury, but when he is on the field, he is electrifying. This deal is good for Baltimore and for Tavon Young.
Tavon Young’s new deal with the Ravens:
$10M signing bonus
2019: $1M base ($1M guaranteed)
2020: $5.5M base ($2M guaranteed)
2021: $5.5M base
2022: $5.845M base
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) February 22, 2019