As the Ravens began to overhaul their roster after an 8-8 season, three players were mentioned most prominently as potential salary cap casualties: linebacker Jameel McClain, fullback Vonta Leach and punter Sam Koch.
McClain and Leach, indeed, were cut loose. But Koch avoided the axe -- at least for now. Is his roster spot safe for 2014, which would be his eighth season with the Ravens?
There are still about 2 million reasons it might not be.
Koch is due a $2.2 million base salary next year, which ranks sixth highest in the league among punters. He has not punted to that level lately. Koch ranked 22nd in the league in net punting last year (38.9 yards a kick) and he was tied for 11th in overall punting (46.0 yards a kick). Koch's nine touchbacks were tied for the fifth most in the league.
The Ravens have been pleased with the reliable, consistent Koch over the years, so much so that they didn't even bring in competition for him last summer. Don't expect him to get off that easy this time around.
Up until now, the Ravens haven't needed to shave Koch's salary; they remain about $9 million under the cap after even after making some key offseason signings thus far (Dennis Pitta, Eugene Monroe, Daryl Smith, Jacoby Jones, Steve Smith).
But the work on this roster isn't done, and that includes at punter. It would be a surprise if the Ravens drafted a punter -- they've done that only twice, selecting Koch in the sixth round in 2006 and Dave Zastudil in the fourth round in 2002. But the Ravens will likely bring in at least one other player -- perhaps a veteran who could be signed at the minimum, perhaps an undrafted rookie -- to challenge Koch this summer.
Koch survived the most recent salary cap purge, but his roster spot for 2014 should not be considered secure yet.