Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Ravens changing personality of locker room
By Jamison Hensley
The release of safety Bernard Pollard is following a curious trend for the Ravens: The locker room is becoming less outspoken.
Whether this is a conscious decision or not, the Ravens are losing strong and vocal leaders in the locker room. Linebacker Ray Lewis retired. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin was traded. And now, for just $1 million in cap room, Pollard will get cut.
Add Bernard Pollard to the list of vocal Ravens players who will be playing elsewhere next season.
This is becoming more and more coach John Harbaugh's team. Veteran players are more apt to challenge decisions, and younger ones are more willing to follow. The personality of the locker room would get toned down further if safety Ed Reed signs elsewhere.
It was a few months ago when Pollard and Reed spoke out against Harbaugh's decision to practice in full pads. They eventually came to a resolution, and it became one of the turning points in the championship season. But with fewer veterans, this situation likely wouldn't occur.
Some suggest Pollard wore out his welcome, which is why he's played on three teams in seven seasons. It's difficult to find another reason why the Ravens are releasing him.
I understand the Ravens' reasoning behind trading Boldin. It created $5.5 million in salary-cap space.
I totally get why the Ravens weren't able to keep linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. The Dolphins overspent when they signed him to a five-year, $35 million deal.
But it's hard to believe Pollard's value outweighs the additional $1 million in cap room. Pollard was the leading tackler last season for the Super Bowl champions. He's the physical enforcer in the secondary. It was that physical play that led him to force the key fumble in the AFC Championship Game.
The NFL is a business, and the release of Pollard underscores that, especially after what he endured. Pollard missed only three games last season, playing with fractured ribs. He re-injured those ribs in the Super Bowl, and still played.
You can say the Ravens want to get younger. But Pollard doesn't turn 30 until December.
You can say Pollard struggled in pass coverage. He did allow quarterbacks to complete 75 percent of their passes against him, according to Pro Football Focus, but he didn't give up a touchdown last season.
But if you say the Ravens are trying to change the personality of the locker room, it's hard to disagree.