Ex-Raven Thomas released by Patriots

April 26, 2010

The New England Patriots on Monday released former Pro Bowl linebacker Adalius Thomas, who joined the team as a high-profile free agent in 2007 but fell into disfavor with coach Bill Belichick last season.

The decision, announced by the team on Monday, leaves Thomas, 32, free to sign with any other NFL team. His agent, Bus Cook, did not immediately return a phone message.

The linebacker signed a five-year, $35 million deal with the Patriots after seven seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, where he played alongside Ray Lewis. He was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2003 and again in 2006.

According to an ESPN.com report, Thomas would like to be reunited with his former defensive coordinator with the Ravens, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan.

Another team likely interested in Thomas is the Miami Dolphins. Mike Nolan, the Dolphins defensive coordinator who served in the same position with the Ravens, was the first to call Thomas "the Defenive Slash" because of his versatility. Nolan tried to sign Thomas in 2007, when he was the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

A few months after Thomas left the Ravens in 2007, he took a swipe at then-Ravens coach Brian Billick and his ex-teammates, saying his former team has "a star-studded system" and no one on the Patriots "beats his chest."

Ray Lewis then responded, saying: "When you take a shot at men that you claim to love to go to war with, I call those cowards. If you got something to say privately, you don't have to go to a newspaper. If you got something to say to a man, speak it."

Thomas had 14 1/2 sacks in his three seasons in New England. But his lowest total came in 2009, when he had only three sacks.

He was a healthy scratch for the Patriots in two games last season, and was one of four players sent home by Belichick after arriving late for practice during a snowstorm in December.

While the three other players, wide receiver Randy Moss, defensive lineman Derrick Burgess and linebacker Gary Guyton largely remained quiet about the snowstorm incident, Thomas spoke out strongly the following day, saying he was "dumbfounded" and "can't figure out what Bill thinks or knows."

Thomas said he showed up nine minutes late for an 8 a.m. team meeting and had called ahead to say he was going to be late.

After being inactive in a 59-0 win over the Tennessee Titans in October, Thomas, asked by reporters why he was benched, said: "Ask Bill. He has all the answers."

Thomas said after the season he would not be surprised if he was released by the Patriots.

In his first season with the team, Thomas had 6 1/2 sacks along with 78 tackles. He also had two sacks in the 17-14 Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants, which spoiled the Patriots' bid for a perfect season.

The Patriots drafted linebacker Brandon Spikes in the second round last week and also selected his Florida teammate, Jermaine Cunningham, who played defensive end in college but may be converted to linebacker in the pros.

Thomas' departure leaves New England thin at outside linebacker, with Tully Banta-Cain the top returning veteran.

Jamison Hensley contributed to this report

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