Maybe this move says more about where the Ravens are going to go in the future on offense than it says about where they've been..
But where they've been has been pretty solid thanks to veteran fullback Vonta Leach.
Is it a money move? Kinda… Leach was set to make $4 milz…
But… more telling is the offensive theory of the league right now which says traditional blocking fullbacks like Vonta Leach are dinosaurs.
It appears the Ravens are moving away from the traditiional FB in their offensive scheme. How else can you explain the release of an All-Pro like Leach?
The Ravens released fullback Vonta Leach Tuesday afternoon.
There were reports that the Ravens were trying to trade the three-time Pro Bowl fullback, but they either didn’t find a satisfactory deal or determined it would be better to cut ties.
“We’ve had lots of discussion in the past week with Vonta and his agent and both parties agreed that it was best to terminate Vonta’s contract,” General Manager Ozzie Newsome said.
“He played a significant role in helping us get to the AFC championship game in 2011 and win the Super Bowl last season. He added to our toughness and will to win, plus he provided leadership. He’s a good football player.”
Leach is the ninth Ravens starter gone from last year's Super Bowl XLVII roster. But Newsome indicated that Leach could end up back in Baltimore.
“There could be an opportunity for him to return to the Ravens once he explores the free agent market, and we could re-visit this before or during training camp,” Newsome said.
Known as perhaps the best blocking fullback in the NFL, Leach had two Pro Bowl seasons in Baltimore. But he was due a reported $4.33 million in 2013. The Ravens, who are tight against the cap, perhaps freed up additional room in case they want to make a move.
Leach saw a slightly diminishing role in Baltimore. He received 579 offensive snaps last year compared to 665 the year prior, according to Pro Football Focus.
“Thank @Ravens organization for a great two years,” Leach tweeted Monday evening. “I came here and did what we set out to do and that's win the Super Bowl. My time here is up but what we accomplished, we will be forever linked. Thank the fans for accepting me and my family to Bmore. #newchapter#samegoal.”
The Ravens have a potentially more versatile rookie fullback Kyle Kuszczyk, a fourth-round pick, on the roster. Juszczyk led Harvard with 52 receptions for 706 yards last season, and could play a variety of roles.
In a corresponding roster move to the Leach release, Baltimore re-signed veteran tight end Billy Bajema Tuesday afternoon.
Bajema played in eight games and started one for the Ravens last year, serving as the team’s No. 3 tight end. He didn’t make any receptions, but was used for his blocking. Bajema occasionally lined up as a fullback.
I don't know about you, but I think the Ravens will miss Vonta Leach's big blocks and his pass-pro…
And what I think I'm seeing is the evolution of the Ravens' offense into more of the Patriots-like mentality, where tight ends line up at fullback position. Yeah, I think I'm seeing a systemic change here that has less to do with Vonta Leach and more to do with where the Ravens want to take their new offensive system.
But one thing is for sure, there is no way Ray Rice can be happy about this personnel decision. Vonta Leach was the lead blocker on many a great Ray Rice expedition.
Leach is set to visit the Dolphins. No idea how much salary cap space they have, but if he ends up in Miami then he's gonna be another Ravens player from last season who'll play against the Ravens in 2013.