Fullback Vonta Leach is expected to continue the veteran exodus and leave the Baltimore Ravens after the two sides failed to renegotiate his contract heading into training camp. The team reportedly will release or trade the veteran today in order to free up $6.2 million in cap space.
Add another name to the list of veterans who have left the team in the short time since they hoisted the Lombardi Trophy last February. Vonta Leach is the latest member of the exodus of veterans to move on from Edgar Allan Poe’s namesake franchise. A list of departed veterans is provided below.
Middle linebacker Ray Lewis and center Matt Birk fittingly went out as champions following their Super Bowl victory.
Safety Ed Reed signed with the Houston Texans.
Wide Receiver Anquan Boldin signed with San Francisco.
Linebacker Dannell Ellerby signed with the Miami Dolphins.
Nose Tackle Ma’ake Kemoeatu is currently a free agent.
Linebacker Paul Kruger signed with the Cleveland Browns.
Cornerback Cary Williams signed with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Safety Bernard Pollard signed with the Tennessee Titans.
This many key veterans leaving has created an exodus reminiscent of the “movement of the people” Bob Marley sung about. The defending champions won’t look very similar to the team that won it all last year when they take the field this year.
So much of the damage has come to the defensive side of the ball. Three starting defensive backs have taken their talents elsewhere. This has been a quality secondary for some time, and will now have to depend on new talent in order to keep up that reputation. Ed Reed is one of the best playmakers to ever play the safety position, and will leave some huge shoes to fill.
The linebacking corps is also down three men, most famously losing Ray Lewis. Lewis had been the quarterback of the defense and one of the most intense figures in the NFL for nearly two decades, inspiring his teammates and giving his all each and every week.
The offensive side of the ball also took a hit when Anquan Boldin departed for San Francisco. The team’s most well rounded receiver last year, he served a vital role in their Super Bowl run. The Ravens passing game will now have to depend on the continued development of Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones if it hopes to sustain the level of productivity it was able to reach towards the end of last season.
And now the veteran exodus continues for the Ravens with the loss of perhaps the best fullback in the NFL, Vonta Leach. Leach is a selfless player who was incredibly popular in the locker room. He was a Pro Bowl selection in both of his two years in Baltimore, and was the lead blocker for the explosive Ray Rice.
Releasing a quality veteran such as Vonta Leach on the eve of training camp doesn’t reflect well on the Ravens organization. From a business perspective the move makes sense, they can probably find a comparable fullback for far less than the $4.33 million in cap space he would have occupied had he stayed on the roster. However kicking a stand up player such as Leach to the curb seems unfair. Leach will probably land quickly with a team, but didn’t deserve to be out of a job.
How will the Ravens look this year? No one can be quite sure, the Super Bowl Champions have retooled their team in a major fashion this off season. An exodus of veteran talent has purged the Baltimore Ravens roster of many key pieces, leaving the door open for many young players to emerge on a contender.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express
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