The Derrick Henry deal puts the Ravens significantly over the salary cap, and that’s OK — for now.

The Ravens don’t have to be fully cap-compliant until the first game of the year, although they do have to be cap-compliant according to the “rule of 51″ by the start of the league year Wednesday at 4 p.m. The NFL’s salary cap took an unprecedented $30 million jump to $255.4 million for the 2024 season. But the Ravens’ number was adjusted down to about $252.9 million because they spent over the 2023 threshold.

The “rule of 51″ means each team’s 51 biggest contracts count against the cap from the beginning of the league year until the first regular season game. Henry’s deal puts the Ravens far over their cap number.

Heading into Monday, the Ravens were just $75,299 over the cap — a margin easily erased by a simple restructure or cut — following defensive lineman Justin Madubuike’s four-year, $98 million extension.

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Then the Ravens agreed to terms with Henry on Tuesday afternoon. The full details of his contract are not out, but he is reportedly signing a two-year, $16 million deal with $9 million in guaranteed money and $4 million available through incentives. The Ravens don’t have to split everything equally between the two years, but if they do, that’s an $8 million cap hit each year, before incentives.

Additionally, the Ravens brought back linebacker Malik Harrison on a one-year deal. The details are not out yet, but the Ravens will have to account for that, as well. His previous salary was worth $1.1 million a year. It was a four-year, entry-level contract, though.

Assuming the Ravens are paying Henry half of his deal each year, they will be $8,075,299 (plus whatever Harrison is owed) over the cap.

There are several ways the Ravens could clear that money. They could cut players, restructure contracts or get players to take a pay cut. Read an in-depth explanation of the methods here.

Outside linebacker Tyus Bowser is one prime candidate to be cut. He did not play a single game last season after suffering a mysterious knee injury. Bowser is a veteran and a versatile player, but the Ravens have a number of young players, such as Odafe Oweh and Harrison, who can play that position. If he were cut, the Ravens would save $5.5 million, according to Russell Street Report.

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Here are some other players Russell Street Report’s Brian McFarland identified as possible cuts to clear cap space:

There are numerous contracts the Ravens could restructure. That would mean they convert some of a player’s salary to a signing bonus, which can be prorated over the remaining years of the deal. Quarterback Lamar Jackson is one option. Next year, the Ravens are paying him $14.25 million in salary and are accounting for $14.65 million of his signing bonus. They could lower his salary and spread that out over the four remaining years of his deal, lowering his cap hit in 2024 but raising it in the following years.

It is harder for teams to get players to agree to pay cuts, but they could convince them if the amount they are reducing the player’s salary to is more than the player thinks he can get on the free agent market. Stanley is one possibility.

He has a $26,168,250 cap hit in 2024, and his salary is $11 million. The Ravens can’t reduce his prorated signing bonus money — that was already paid to him — but they could lower his salary. While he has been a Pro Bowler, he is a veteran tackle who has been injury-prone in recent years, so he might not want to risk free agency. However, the Ravens have to make a decision before his $4 million roster bonus kicks in on the fifth day of the league year.

So far, the Ravens have lost more free agents than they’ve gained. They can continue signing free agents, but after 4 p.m. tomorrow, all of their signings must fit under the cap by the rule of 51. And they’re not yet cap compliant that we know of (they don’t have to release information on restructured deals). They’ll also need an additional $12 million-$15 million for their draft picks and to have in reserve in case players get hurt.

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The news of Henry’s addition will most likely be followed with some news about subtractions soon.

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