Cowherd: Ravens fans shouldn't panic over loss of players

There is plenty of time for the Ravens to rebuild

March 13, 2013|Kevin Cowherd

Maybe you think Ozzie Newsome has lost his mind this time.

Now it's hard-hitting Bernard Pollard who's been shown the door by the Ravens' general manager, joining the mini-parade of Anquan Boldin, Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe as salary-cap casualties.

I know, I know . . . since the start of free agency, it's felt like "Ozzie Gone Wild" over at the Castle as the re-making of the Super Bowl champions gets underway.

But Ravens fans need to chill. Before the mass freak-out gets out of control, let's remember that it's still early in free agency.

Let's see who the Ravens bring in to replace those players — Chris Canty's a nice start — before we declare this a civic disaster and have Ozzie fitted for a straitjacket.

Let's see what the Ravens do in the April draft, where they've been at their best over the years, with way more hits than misses.

I'm not one of these people who thinks Newsome and assistant GM Eric DeCosta are infallible. I always thought that whole "In Ozzie We Trust" business was a little over the top.

But there has to be a plan in place that's dictating these recent moves.

Don't ask me what the plan is. Although with Ray Lewis and Matt Birk retiring, Bobbie Williams being released, and Ed Reed, Cary Williams and Bryant McKinnie also possibly leaving, the plan might be called: "Let's Get Younger and Cheaper Pronto."

Actually, it's the same plan the Ravens have had for years: don't throw stupid money at free agents, look for value in players you do sign, rely on the draft to re-stock. (Hmmm, isn't there another GM around here with a similar philosophy? Guy by the name of Dan Duquette?)

The release of Pollard on Wednesday was definitely a shocker, though.

He was the enforcer in that Ravens defense last season, the one guy who intimidated opposing offenses when Ray Lewis was on his last ride, Terrell Suggs was sidelined much of the time with injuries and Ed Reed a reluctant tackler with neck and back issues.

Pollard was the Ravens' hit man, and he loved the role. He talked tough in the locker room, which made him a media favorite. Then he went out and backed it up on gameday.

Stevan Ridley says he still doesn't remember the hit Pollard laid on him in the fourth quarter of the Ravens win over the New England Patriots in the AFC championship.

But everyone in Baltimore does. Pollard smacked the Pats' running back so hard he did a 360-degree twirl. Then he landed on his butt and coughed up the football before it was lights out and he was in la-la land.

The Ravens recovered and four plays later scored on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Anquan Boldin that sealed the win.

That was what Pollard could do for a football team. He loved to hit people and led the Ravens in tackles. He loved being a Raven. And he was only 29, which makes you wonder what actually prompted his release.

No, he wasn't the greatest cover guy. Maybe he was too loud, too outspoken. Maybe he argued too much with coaches.

Whatever the reason, he's gone. And now it looks as if we'll see a vastly overhauled Ravens team next season.

Losing Kruger and Ellerbee is a vivid example of what happens when you're a highly-successful organization and you win the Super Bowl: your players — well, some of them anyway — get over-valued, big-time.

Kruger gets a five-year, $40.5 million deal with the Cleveland Browns? With one season (actually seven games) as a starter? That's crazy money, even for a pass rusher.

Ellerbe got overpaid, too, at five years and $35 million from the Miami Dolphins. In the past, he was a knucklehead about team rules and battled injuries, too, leading to questions about his durability.

But he was just coming into his own as an inside linebacker, which means he's being paid for his upside as much as anything else. So maybe the Dolphins weren't completely crazy giving him that kind of deal.

Anyway, that's for them to find out. Ellerbe wasn't going to get that deal from the Ravens. They couldn't afford it after backing up a Brinks truck to Joe Flacco's house.

As for Boldin, how can you blame the guy for not wanting to take a $2 million pay cut after the big-play postseason he had?

And now he's gone. One month after having a monster postseason, he's been traded to the San Francisco 49ers for a sixth-round draft choice, which is like getting a blocking sled in return.

Oh, you gotta love free agency.

Listen to Kevin Cowherd on Tuesdays at 7:20 a.m. on 105.7 The Fan's "The Norris and Davis Show."

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