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Center position is wide open in Baltimore…

Baltimore will release center Jeremy Zuttah, according to Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network.

Zuttah has been the Ravens’ starting center for the last three years after Baltimore traded for him, and he was signed through 2018. Releasing him would save $5.8 million in salary cap space over the next two seasons, according to Spotrac. The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec reported that the Ravens tried to trade Zuttah but were unable to find a suitor.

UPDATE— Ozzie managed to trade Zuttah and his contract to San Francisco…. The 49ers and the Ravens will swap 6th Round Draft picks… and so it goes…

Zuttah, 30, started every game last year and made the Pro Bowl as an alternate. He finished the year graded by Pro Football Focus as the league’s 14th-best center.

Potential in-house candidates to replace Zuttah would include John Urschel and Ryan Jensen. I’m not sure those guys are viable starters at center—good backup guys, but lacking the proven experience to consistently block or make protection calls at this level.

HC John Harbaugh said after the season that the Ravens want to beef up their offensive line, and they could look to the free-agent market to do so. Former Jets center Nick Mangold is still on the market if the Ravens wanted to pursue him, but Zrebiec wrote that the Ravens aren’t currently in the bidding for him.

Meanwhile, per the NFL transaction wire, the Ravens withdrew the restricted free-agent tenders extended to defensive backs Marqueston Huff and Jumal Rolle. Both players are now free agents and can sign with any team. They could also return at a cheaper price. By rescinding the original round tenders, the Ravens opened up $3.4 million in cap space, but after Rule 51 is applied, it works out to be $2.5 million, according to Russell Street Report’s Brian McFarland.

Are Ravens close to another signing?” asked ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.

Many have thought the Ravens are making cap room to sign cornerback Morris Claiborne, who has been linked to Baltimore for several days. CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora reported Monday that several teams believe Claiborne will end up taking the Ravens’ offer.

Hensley himself wondered if the two moves were a sign that Claiborne had made his decision, but that doesn’t look to be the case. “Nothing imminent with Ravens and CB Morris Claiborne,” Hensley tweeted. “Sides are still talking. Withdrawing RFA tenders to Marqueston Huff and Jumal Rolle is unrelated move.”

“Whether the Ravens finish the deal with Claiborne, or focus on another free agent, taking the tenders off the table from Huff and Rolle to create more cap space is yet another sign that General Manager Ozzie Newsome isn’t playing around,” wrote BaltimoreBeatdown.com’s Evan Mazza. “When Ozzie said he wasn’t done in free agency, he meant it.”

 

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