The Ravens are quickly approaching 1997 Florida Marlins territory. Or 2003 Florida Marlins territory. Win, dump all the players, repeat.
The latest cap casualty is safety Bernard Pollard, who was just released in a move that saves Ozzie Newsome another $2 million, which was the safety’s base salary for 2013. Following the Anquan Boldin trade that saved them $6 million, the Ravens now have roughly $13 million in cap room, meaning they’ve finally climbed free from the clutches of their monetary demons.
But at what cost? So many bodies have hit the floor.
Six weeks ago the confetti was settling in New Orleans after a Super Bowl win following a remarkable playoff run. Now the Ravens have been gutted, and mostly on the defensive side of the ball, which was their motor for the past decade. The list of the departed includes Pollard, Paul Kruger, Ray Lewis, and Dannell Ellerbe, with Ed Reed and Cary Williams possibly set to follow.
The easy assumption is that this latest axing was made to free up the required space to retain the latter two, and especially Reed. The Ravens’ losses are devastating and likely crippling as it is, but they’d now be absolutely decimated if Reed leaves. As it stands, both of the starting middle linebackers from the Ravens’ championship season are gone, making it almost certain that an ILB will be targeted with their opening pick at the very end of the first round in April’s draft.
Pollard is one of the hardest hitting safeties in the league. Some would call him dirty, and Patriots fans wouldn’t disagree with that assessment. But if Reed isn’t re-signed at minimum, cutting a 28-year-old of Pollard’s caliber will become downright puzzling, as the character of a once feared Baltimore defense is quickly eroding.
Pollard is versatile and comfortable in coverage, and while creeping up to the line and helping out on run defense. The latter area is where his presence was especially felt, with Pro Football Focus ranking Pollard seventh for his run defense among safeties.