In a surprising move, the Ravens released veteran safety Bernard Pollard, leaving them without another key performer in last season's run to a Super Bowl XLVII victory.
Pollard, the Ravens' starting strong safety the past two seasons and one of the vocal leaders of the defense, broke the news on his Twitter account, writing, "Well Raven Nation it's been fun. My time in Baltimore is done... Thank you!"
A league source confirmed Pollard has been let go. The 28-year-old safety, one of the NFL's biggest hitters and one of the Ravens' locker room's biggest personalities, carried a $3.25 million cap figure for next season. He was due a $500,000 roster bonus on Saturday.
A key free-agent pickup from the Houston Texans in 2011, Pollard led the Super Bowl champions this past season with 98 tackles to go along with two sacks, one interception and six passes defended despite missing three games and playing much of the season with cracked ribs.
With Ed Reed also a free agent, the Ravens could be without both of their starting safeties next season. Their defense has already lost inside linebackers Ray Lewis (retired) and Dannell Ellerbe (signed with the Miami Dolphins) and outside linebacker Paul Kruger, who led the team in sacks last year before signing with the Cleveland Browns on Tuesday.