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Ravens establishing precedent by swiftly cutting Victor Hampton

3/2/2015

The Baltimore Ravens cut reserve cornerback Victor Hampton a day after team officials learned he was arrested for driving while impaired in Charlotte, North Carolina.

This comes 38 days after the Ravens announced the release of backup nose tackle Terrence Cody when it was revealed that he was under investigation for animal cruelty.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said at the end of last season that the "threshold of tolerance" has changed with off-the-field behavior, and the Ravens have certainly backed that up with their swift actions this offseason.

Of course, the true test of the Ravens' stance will come when it's someone more valuable to the team than a little-used nose tackle and a recently signed cornerback from a practice squad. The Ravens are sending a message to the rest of the team by reacting so fast in these matters, but they are also setting a precedent by cutting ties with Cody and Hampton before they were convicted of a crime.

The expectation now is that the Ravens will act just as decisively if a starting wide receiver or high-priced linebacker gets charged with a DWI or is under investigation for a serious matter like animal cruelty.

It was a different course of action last offseason, when five players were arrested. The Ravens didn't release running back Ray Rice, offensive lineman Jah Reid, wide receiver Deonte Thompson, running back Lorenzo Taliaferro and cornerback Jimmy Smith after their run-ins with the law. No one expected the Ravens to release three players over misdemeanors, but Rice and Thompson faced felony charges. Still, the team's response was the same: the Ravens were gathering information and there are two sides to every story.

In the end, no one went to trial. Their cases were either dropped or the player was accepted into a pretrial diversion program: Rice (felony aggravated assault, accepted into pretrial diversion program), Reid (misdemeanor battery, accepted into pretrial diversion program), Thompson (felony possession of marijuana, charges dropped), Taliaferro (misdemeanor destruction of property, drunk and disorderly, case dismissed) and Smith (misdemeanor disorderly conduct, case dismissed).

Ravens officials said last month that they believe the arrest-filled 2014 offseason was an aberration. In Harbaugh's previous six years as the head coach, there were only four reported arrests of Ravens players, according to the San Diego Tribune-Review's arrest database.

But, if a high-profile player does get in serious trouble, the Ravens have to either follow their precedent or face criticism for making an exception to the rule.