While team officials have yet to comment on Pollard's release, it continues a trend of offseason activity that has the Ravens' roster — particularly on the defensive side — getting younger, thinner, quieter and in some cases, cheaper.
A little more than a month since the Ravens finished a surprising playoff run with a 34-31 victory over the
"That's a lot of players and a lot of key guys on the defense to lose," said former Ravens linebacker
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no title-winning team has lost more than five Super Bowl starters before the following season. In short order, the Ravens already have matched that number and that doesn't include Kruger, a pass-rushing specialist who parlayed a team-leading nine-sack season into a five-year, $40 million deal with the rival Browns.
Some of the moves were inevitable and expected. Middle linebacker
Then came some surprises. On the eve of free agency, the Ravens sent
Then the market opened Tuesday and not only did the cash-strapped Ravens quickly but not-surprisingly lose Kruger, they watched
The fifth key defensive player from last year's squad was then jettisoned Wednesday when Pollard, 28, was let go following a season in which he made 98 tackles, two sacks and an interception while playing much of it with cracked ribs.
"Well Raven Nation it's been fun," Pollard said on his Twitter account. "My time in Baltimore is done... Thank you!"
A league source later confirmed that Pollard had been released, which leaves the Ravens without their two starting safeties.
"They've lost a lot of guys but when you look at them individually and look at the depth chart and what they can do, they have some guys they can plug in there," said Daniel Jeremiah, a former Ravens' scout who is currently an analyst for
Ravens' fans should certainly be used to the roster defections. Two offseasons ago, the Ravens cut ties with running back
"They've been able to for the last couple of years whether it's through free agency or draft or waiting until the final cuts of training camp, to bring guys in that help them win games," said Mason, the Ravens' all-time leading receiver who still has close ties to the organization. "If you're going to judge the Ravens, judge them off their history. Their track history is very good. Yes, you've lost a lot of good players but it happens. It's football."
Jeremiah pointed out the Ravens' history in drafting well — and they could have as many as 12 picks in next month's draft — and their past success in finding free agent bargains later in the signing period. Last offseason, the Ravens made unheralded free agent additions with the signings of wide receiver/kick returner
In reality, the Ravens' top decision markers foreshadowed what's currently happening. At the season-ending news conference last month, owner
"We will not repeat what we did in 2001 because we are trying to build where we can win Super Bowls more than just one more time," Newsome said last month. "We have a great nucleus of young players, players who are just hitting into their prime that we are going to build this team around. We are not going to be restricting contracts and do all of those different things to be able just to maintain this team to make another run. But … that doesn't mean that we don't want to try to go and repeat."
The moves to this point have helped the Ravens inch closer to their organizational goals. The team has already gotten considerably younger as Lewis, Birk, Williams and Boldin were among four of the six oldest players on the team and Reed is also in that group.
The team has also gained some financial flexibility going forward, which should help next offseason when the salary cap numbers of Flacco, Webb and others rise significantly, and tight end
If there was any lingering question after the Ravens made Flacco the highest paid player in NFL history earlier this month, there isn't any more with the overhauling of their defense. The Ravens' identity has shifted to the offensive side of the ball, a transition that started this past season. With the likes of Lewis, Boldin, Pollard and maybe Reed — all vocal players who weren't afraid to challenge coaches and teammates — now gone, the Ravens are in ideal position to morph into Flacco's team.
"I think people are looking at it from a standpoint like a racehorse. Their vision is blocked right now. They see straight ahead and nothing else," Mason said. "As fans, you appreciate that but you have to see the big picture. Ozzie understands what he's doing. He's been down this road before. He's not going to detract from the team without having a plan."