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Ravens And Running Back Justin Forsett Mutually Part Ways


The Ravens and running back Justin Forsett have mutually parted ways, and this time he's not coming back.

Forsett spoke with General Manager Ozzie Newsome Tuesday morning and expressed a desire to move on to another team where he might have a better chance to play.

The team officially released Forsett later in the day.

The 30-year-old running back no longer had a significant on-field role with the emergence of running back Terrance West and return of rookie Kenneth Dixon. Second-year back Javorius Allen also showed he can contribute.

After beginning the year as the Ravens' starter in a split role with West, Forsett was benched in Sunday's Week 4 game against the Raiders.

"It was mutual," Forsett said. "I felt like my opportunity here was closing. I'm at a phase in my career where I don't want to sit; I want to play. I have a lot of football left in me."

On Monday, Head Coach John Harbaugh talked about the decision to deactivate Forsett and what it could mean for his future with the team.

"Justin Forsett is a highly-respected, highly-valued guy in my eyes and the eyes of all of us," Harbaugh said. "It is a competitive world that we are in. It is a competitive league; it is a competitive sport. He knows that as well as anybody. It doesn't diminish him in any way. It just enhances him, in my mind, in terms of how he handles it."

Forsett already dealt with adversity earlier this year when the Ravens released him as part of their 53-man roster cuts, only to bring him back a few days later. They did it as part of a roster maneuvering trick, but the move also said something about Forsett's worth.

Since Forsett was on the Ravens' Week 1 roster, he will be paid his full 2016 salary. If he signs elsewhere, he can add to that salary.

Forsett was in his third year with the Ravens. He came out of nowhere to have a Pro Bowl season in 2014, in which he rushed for 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns and caught 44 passes for 263 yards. He led all NFL running backs with 5.4 yards per carry.

Forsett had more troubles last year after former Ravens Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak, who also coached Forsett in 2012 in Houston, left for Denver. His average yards per carry dropped to 4.2 and he broke his arm in Week 10.

He rehabbed this offseason, but found himself in a competitive backfield and surrounded by younger options. Still, he was the leader of the group both on the field and in the locker room, and had a strong training camp.

During the regular season, however, Forsett got off to a slow start with 31 carries for 98 yards (3.2 per carry) and no touchdowns. He had trouble making defenders miss and wasn't gaining much yardage after contact.

"It was tough," Forsett said. "You put so much time and effort in, especially after breaking my arm last year, to try to get back and help the team out. You come out and you don't have the stats you want to have, you get demoted and you're watching the game.

"But I try to find peace in it all. I try to make the best of each situation and look at how it can make me a better person."

The person was always so much bigger than just the player with Forsett. He was one of the most respected people in the locker room and a true leader by example. In his short time in Baltimore, he quickly became a fan favorite.

"It's a hard decision. I love this team, love the players on this team, love the city," Forsett said. "Everybody took me in like I was family from Day 1. It's a hard farewell."

Before he left, Forsett walked down to the staff wing of the Under Armour Performance Center and individually said goodbye to everyone.

"It's difficult to leave a place that gave me the opportunity to show what I could do, especially at a time when everybody said I was done," Forsett said.

Now Forsett will have to prove once again that he can still play in the NFL, which is a hard task for a running back in his 30s, but one that Forsett says he's up for.

"It's more fuel to the fire for my next endeavor," he said.

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