Heading into the 2002 offseason, NFL Players Association reports pegged the Ravens at almost $21 million over the salary cap, $6 million more than the cap-strapped Broncos are projected to be this offseason.
Beginning in February, in a preview of moves Denver might have to make, Baltimore had no choice but to dismantle its championship roster.
First the Ravens exposed linebacker Jamie Sharper and wide receiver-kick returner Jermaine Lewis in the expansion draft, saving almost $7 million against the salary cap once the Houston Texans picked those players.
Then, in a stunning 24-hour period, the roster was cut to the bone with the termination of contracts for tight end Shannon Sharpe, safety Rod Woodson, wide receiver Qadry Ismail, fullback Sam Gash, offensive lineman Kipp Vickers, defensive end Rob Burnett and defensive tackles Sam Adams, Tony Siragusa and Larry Webster – saving another $18 million.
Radical moves saved the Ravens more than $25 million. But they cost them the 2002 season and possibly more.
“That day,” Ozzie Newsome recalled as his winless Ravens kicked off preparations for Monday night’s game in Baltimore against the Broncos, “people were calling me “Ozzie the Butcher.'”
— Adam Schefter, The Denver Post “Ravens crushed by cap; Broncos face similar problem.”