Miami Dolphins

Blueprint For Success: How the Ravens were built (and what the Dolphins can learn)

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Blueprint for Success: How the Dolphins’ 2019 opponents were built

Our weekly series that examines how the Miami Dolphins’ 2019 opponents built their roster, and what lessons Miami can glean as they build theirs.

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This is the first of a weekly series that examines how the Dolphins’ 2019 opponents built their roster, and what lessons Miami can glean as they build theirs.

Team: Baltimore Ravens.

Coach: John Harbaugh (12th season).

General manager: Eric DeCosta (first season).

Team owner: Steve Bisciotti.

Franchise value: $2.59 billion.

2018 record: 10-6 (first in the AFC North).

Last playoff appearance: 2018 (lost in the Wild Card Round).

Last Super Bowl championship: 2012.

Total 2019 payroll: $179.7 million (24th).

Total 2019 AAV: $150 million (30th).

Salary cap space: $9.6 million (18th).

Dead money: $24.4 million (6th most).

Percentage of home-grown players: 81.

Overview: The Ravens are the preeminent draft-and-develop team in the NFL. A staggering 81 percent of their roster is home grown, meaning four out of every five Ravens players were drafted by Baltimore or signed as rookie free agents. It was the philosophy perfected by Ozzie Newsome, and then passed down to his successor Eric DeCosta, who took over as GM in January after serving under Newsome for the franchise’s first 13 seasons. Some incredible stats from ESPN’s Jamison Hensley: Of the 27 players selected by Baltimore in the past three drafts, 23 made Baltimore’s initial 53-man roster. Only four starters joined the Ravens as free agents: defensive backs Earl Thomas and Tony Jefferson, running back Mark Ingram and wide receiver Willie Snead. This is a transition season for the Ravens, who moved on from quarterback Joe Flacco after 11 seasons. The Ravens were ready to hand the franchise over to Lamar Jackson, but doing so came at a cost: a $16 million cap hit for cutting Flacco. Just three current Ravens count more than $10 million against the cap (Jimmy Smith, Brandon Williams and Jefferson), but one-fifth of the roster is making between $6 million and $10 million this year. Both the Ravens and Dolphins got their financial houses in order this year this offseason, but Baltimore did so without Miami’s massive talent purge. Oddsmakers still believe the Ravens have a 40 percent chance to make the playoffs this season, and the better news: they have an estimated $67 million in 2020 salary cap space. With Jackson on his rookie contract for three more seasons after this one, the Ravens will be able to maximize their supporting cast and gear up for another Super Bowl run in the next few years.

The lesson: Don’t overpay for free agents, move on from your franchise quarterback before it’s too late, accumulate as many draft picks as possible and have a ridiculous success rate with those picks.

He said it: “Circumstances do dictate [our roster composition]. We do believe in the draft. We believe in developing players. I think we do a really good job of that. But we haven’t had a lot of cap space either. You’ve got to have money to go out and sign free agents, and our cap has been under water for the last five years. ... I think our guys work really hard and we play very hard. It’s how you go out there and play on Sunday. The games are won and lost on gameday. It’s the team that plays the best that day. We’ve tried to be that team as best we can.” — Ravens coach John Harbaugh

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