Ravens Release Former ECU Star Vonta Leach

courtesy: baltimoreravens.com

The team has parted ways with a pair of veterans ahead the start of free agency.

The Ravens terminated the contracts of veteran fullback Vonta Leach and inside linebacker Jameel McClain Thursday, clearing salary cap space before free agency begins March 11.

The moves will reportedly save $4.95 million in salary cap space.

“Vonta and Jameel are two of our most important players over the last few seasons, helping us to the playoffs and giving the Ravens the Super Bowl win after the 2012 season,” General Manager Ozzie Newsome said.

“There could come a point later on when we would consider bringing back Vonta and Jameel. They are our types of players.”

McClain, 28, has spent his entire six-year career in Baltimore after the Ravens signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2008. He was entering the final year of his contract and reportedly carried a $4.4 million cap hit this season.

“There is so much to like about Jameel the player and the person,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s a true leader and his story from rookie free agent to NFL starter is one of the best in the league. You give him so much credit for finding a way to become the player he is. He’s one of those who gets the most out of his ability. He has a lot of football left and, maybe, that could be with the Ravens down the line.”

McClain started 10 games last season after coming back from a career-threatening spinal cord injury that he sustained during the 2012 season. McClain finished with 52 tackles and one forced fumble last year. He has been a starting inside linebacker in Baltimore since 2010.

“Jameel is a Ravens’ success story who came to us as a rookie free agent,” Newsome said. “He changed positions from playing on the defensive line and outside to becoming a good inside linebacker and starter. People close to our team understand his commitment to being the best he can be and the leadership he gave on and off the field.”

Leach, 32, is an 11-year veteran who spent the last three seasons in Baltimore. The bruising fullback was a two-time Pro Bowler with the Ravens and considered one of the best lead blockers in the NFL.

“Vonta proved to be one of the best fullbacks in the league, plus he added leadership and toughness to our offense,” Newsome said.

Leach tweeted “thanks for the memories” along with a photo collage of some Ravens moments after the news broke.