The Norman Transcript

March 13, 2013

Ravens get picked apart; Fitzpatrick cut

By Barry Wilner
The Associated Press

NORMAN — The Baltimore Ravens are paying the price for winning a Super Bowl.

The NFL champions lost two key components of their defense, linebackers Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe, as free agency began Tuesday. On Monday, they traded star receiver Anquan Boldin, a key to their title run, to San Francisco — the team the Ravens beat 34-31 to win the championship.

Kruger went north to division rival Cleveland for a five-year, $40 million deal, while Ellerbe headed south to Miami for $35 million over five years.

The 49ers didn’t go untouched, either. After giving up a sixth-round draft pick for Boldin, they saw tight end Delanie Walker leave for Tennessee.

San Francisco also confirmed the trade of backup quarterback Alex Smith to Kansas City, a deal that was known for weeks. The 49ers will receive the Chiefs’ second-round pick, 34th overall, in this year’s draft and a conditional pick in next year’s draft.

The 32-year-old Boldin expressed surprise that he was traded.

“I thought this was the last stop of my career but regardless of the circumstances I came here to win a Championship ... and in February we came home Champions,” he said on Twitter.

Ellerbe also tweeted as he took his talents to South Beach.

“Just wanna take time to THANK GOD for being in this position I’m in! Before I make da BIGGEST DECISION in my life I just wanna thank him!!!” Ellerbe said.

Kruger led the Ravens with nine sacks and added 2 1/2 in the playoffs and two in the Super Bowl. But he was too expensive for Baltimore to keep.

Kansas City was busy finding support for Smith on both sides of the ball. The Chiefs agreed to a four-year, $16 million deal with tight end Anthony Fasano, a three-year, $12.6 million contract with defensive tackle Mike DeVito, and a three-year deal with Saints backup quarterback Chase Daniel.

Teams also made cuts Tuesday. The biggest were Ryan Fitzpatrick in Buffalo and Nnamdi Asomugha in Philadelphia.

The Bills’ starting quarterback was released 1 1/2 years after getting a six-year, $59 million contract extension. Fitzpatrick struggled after signing the new deal, and the Bills went 6-10 in 2011 and in 2012.

Buffalo has not made the playoffs since 1999, the longest active streak in the NFL. For now, the Bills’ No. 1 quarterback is Tarvaris Jackson.

Earlier, Tony Gonzalez changed his mind and decided to return to the Falcons.

The NFL’s career leader among tight ends with 1,242 receptions and 103 touchdowns said he was 95 percent certain he would retire after 2012, but the other 5 percent won out.

Also Thursday:

—Defensive end Will Smith and linebacker Jonathan Vilma, both implicated in the Saints’ bounty scandal, agreed to restructure their contracts to remain with New Orleans.

The 31-year-old Smith and 30-year-old Vilma, both veteran defensive captains, would have taken up about $23 million combined in salary cap space without the redone deals.

—Minnesota finalized the trade of receiver Percy Harvin to Seattle, released 14-year veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield and re-signed tackle Phil Loadholt.

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.