Why Was Pollard Cut? Trends Developing …
The Ravens have yet to confirm the move, but Bernard Pollard tweeted yesterday that his time in Baltimore is “done.” The Baltimore Sun reported the hard-hitting safety was released.
It was a “shocking” move, especially considering the Ravens will reportedly save only $1 million in cap space for a productive safety that is still young at 29 years old. Plus, he just signed a three-year extension 10 months ago.
The Ravens no longer have to pay Pollard a $500,000 roster bonus due Saturday, but they'll carry $2.25 million in dead money from the move in 2013, according to the NFL Network's Albert Breer.
So why cut last season's leading tackler, who still has plenty of football in him at a relatively inexpensive price?
"I'd have to think this is more than just a "money" decision," tweeted The Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
Outsiders are starting to see a couple of trends in the Ravens' maneuvering thus far …
Trend 1: Locker Room Less Outspoken
ESPN's Jamison Hensley says the "curious trend" he sees is a less outspoken Ravens locker room.
Baltimore has lost vocal leaders in Ray Lewis and Anquan Boldin. Ed Reed is testing the market (more on that below) and may not return. Pollard was certainly outspoken, frequently criticizing the league for its safety rules.
"This is becoming more and more coach John Harbaugh's team," wrote Hensley. "Veteran players are more apt to challenge decisions, and younger ones are more willing to follow. … It was a few months ago when Pollard and Reed spoke out against Harbaugh's decision to practice in full pads. They eventually came to a resolution, and it became one of the turning points in the championship season. But with fewer veterans, this situation likely wouldn't occur.
"Some suggest Pollard wore out his welcome, which is why he's played on three teams in seven seasons. It's difficult to find another reason why the Ravens are releasing him."
Trend 2: Ravens Starting Over On Defense
Ray Lewis – gone. Dannell Ellerbe – gone. Paul Kruger – gone. Pollard – gone. Reed – doesn't look promising, but you never know.
Currently only five Super Bowl starters on defense remain: Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, Corey Graham, Art Jones and Courtney Upshaw.
CBS Sports' Mike Freeman has asked around to find out what's going on.
"When I asked several people around football what the Ravens were doing, the prevailing belief was that Baltimore was starting over on defense, and would use the draft to add receivers and defensive depth," Freeman wrote. "We'll see."
If the Ravens are indeed starting over, they have the tools in their arsenal to pull it off. Baltimore could have as many as 12 draft picks next month, based on the number of compensatory picks they receive.
"Here's why the sky isn't falling in Baltimore: Because the Ravens have a slew of draft picks, and few, if any, teams draft better than the Ravens," wrote CBS Sports' Clark Judge.
Judge pointed out that of the 53 players on the Ravens Super Bowl roster, 36 were either drafted or originally signed by Baltimore. Not a bad record.
And while it is tough to see so many veterans go, WBAL's Gerry Sandusky understands the team's strategy considering the defensive unit's mediocre performance last season. He reminds fans that the Ravens were ranked 17th on defense last season and had their worst run defense ever.
"SB, yes," tweeted Sandusky. “Great, no.”
Other Vets Nervous About Getting Cut
After witnessing Pollard's surprising exit, The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson reported that other Ravens veterans are starting to get nervous.
So Wilson did some digging on some other speculative potential roster casualties. Here's what he found:
- Receiver Jacoby Jones is expected to receive his $1 million roster bonus Saturday, indicating the Ravens will keep him.
- Fullback Vonta Leach remains on the roster with his contract still unchanged.
- Linebacker and special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo remains on the roster with nothing new to report.
Reed Gets 'Extremely Strong' Offer
Reed is scheduled to meet with the Houston Texans today, and the club has already made an "extremely strong bid to woo” him, according to Wilson.
Asked what the chances are of Reed signing with the Texans, ESPN's Adam Schefter said on Twitter: "First visits usually – not always but usually – mean deals."
With safeties William Moore (Falcons), Glover Quin (Lions), Dashon Goldson (Buccaneers) and LaRon Landry (Colts) now off the market, Judge believes Reed has “considerable leverage.”
With that leverage, Reed's decision will come down to choosing between the best deal he can get and staying with the same team his whole career, says Sandusky.
"And in fairness to Ed Reed, he has earned the right to make that choice," he added.
Hey Ray! Are Ravens In Trouble?
After officially announcing he is a member of the ESPN crew, Ray Lewis was aaallll over the network yesterday (check out the photo gallery).
While a guest on SportsCenter, Lewis was asked if the Ravens are in trouble after losing so many key players.
Baltimore will have lost five starters from their Super Bowl-winning team (that doesn't include Kruger and cuts may not be finished). No reigning champion has ever lost more than five starters from their team before the start of the following season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Lewis' short answer? "I think Ozzie does a great job in what he does," he said. "At the same time, I believe he has his work cut out for him but I think he's up for the challenge."
Lewis' long answer? Check out the video below.
No Amendola For Ravens
There were conflicting reports about whether the Ravens were actually interested in slot receiver Danny Amendola. One said Baltimore was “highly interested” while another said it never pursued Amendola.
It doesn't matter anymore. The 27-year-old veteran will replace Wes Welker in New England after signing a five-year deal with the Patriots.
(By the way, how sick is the Broncos' passing game going to be?!? Peyton Manning gets to target receivers Welker, Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas. And in case you were wondering, yes, the Ravens play Denver next year … in Denver … with a new defense.)
- @BaltimoreLuke WNST]: Anquan Boldin tells @WNST that John Harbaugh told him Friday that the #Ravens would ["try to get something done"to keep him in Baltimore. [Twitter]
- Kruger said that in addition to the Browns, the Saints also pursued him. The Ravens weren't in the hunt, but the outside linebacker wasn’t upset about that. ProFootballTalk.com]@pkruger99: [Thank you ravens nation for all the support and good memories. It was an amazing 4 years of my life. Thanks for everything [Twitter]
- @MaryKayCabot Cleveland Plain Dealer]: #Browns LB Paul Kruger, on if there's resentment against Flacco and his $$$ for #Ravens' mass exodus: ["it depends who you're talking to.'' [Twitter]
- The Bears contacted free agent tackle Bryant McKinnie prior to signing Jermon Bushrod. [The Baltimore Sun]
- @GerrySandusky: Danelle Ellerbe said at his Dolphins press conf. today that he expected to remain a Raven. His smile said even he didn't expect THAT much $. [Twitter]
- @RavensInsider: The Ravens have issued a tender to outside linebacker to retain him for next season. [Twitter]
- @AdamSchefter: A warm welcome to the greatest defensive player I watched play, @Raylewis. Going to be a great teammate. [Twitter]
- @heyLSad Ravens fan]: If [Ray Lewis isn't the new pope, then I don't want to be Catholic anymore. [Twitter]
- @jerehoadley Ravens fan]: @Ravens @TwentyER @raylewis @RayRice27 [Bam..... (referring to photoshopped Lewis picture) [Twitter]