Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Baltimore Moving Forward, set to Release Four Big-time Players

Today's the day the players can report to team facilities and team's may start signing rookies and undrafted free agents, as well as talking (but not signing, yet) to free agents.

Although teams cannot release players until Thursday, numerous teams have already made announcements on who they plan to cut. Baltimore, for example, will be releasing four well-known players according to sources close with ESPN.

Thanks to a little depth on the offensive side of things, Baltimore can afford to cut some veterans to leave room for some youth. Among the players to be released are 31-year old tight end Todd Heap, 37-year old two-time Pro Bowl wideout Derrick Mason and 29-year old running back Willis McGahee.
All four of the cuts will combine for a net saving of $18.6 million, clearly clearing room under the salary cap. However, according to another report says the team could bring Heap and Mason back at a lower price once the free agency period begins.

Either way, Heap and Mason will no doubt be on an NFL roster come September. It's just a question as to whether or not Baltimore would bring them back, and whether or not the two would be willing to return at a cheaper price.

The fourth to reportedly be cut by Baltimore is 34-year old nose tackle Kelly Gregg, and although this position isn't currently in as dire a need as wideout and tight end for Baltimore, Gregg's presence on the D-line will surely be missed. Gregg has been a Raven ever since Baltimore's record-setting Super Bowl run in 2000.

If, in fact, Baltimore does not bring Heap or Mason back for 2011, I really think Joe Flacco and his passing game would be at a loss. Here Baltimore is trying to make a deep playoff run with a more matured Flacco and they lose two of its bigger offensive weapons.

The 2010 season was a down year for Heap (13 starts), Mason (first season under 1,000 yards since '06) and McGahee (3.8 YPC, 5 TDs), but having Mason's yards after catch ability, Heap's blocking ability and presence on the line, and McGahee's body-type in short-yardage situations will surely make a huge impact come playoff time in Baltimore.

Photo credit: found on otrsportsonline.com

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