Ravens suffer key losses to free agency
The Baltimore Ravens are paying the price for winning a Super Bowl.
The NFL champions lost two key components of their defense, linebackers Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe as free agency began Tuesday. On Monday, they traded star receiver Anquan Boldin, a key to their title run, to San Francisco.
Kruger went north to division rival Cleveland for a five-year, $40 million deal, while Ellerbe headed south to Miami for $35 million over five years.
The Browns also added former Raiders defensive lineman Desmond Bryant, signing him to a five-year, $34 million deal.
The Ravens signed free agent defensive end Chris Canty, 30,who spent the previous four seasons with the New York Giants.
The 49ers didn't go untouched, either. They saw tight end Delanie Walker leave for Tennessee.
Kruger led the Ravens with nine sacks and added 2½ in the playoffs and two in the Super Bowl. But he was too expensive for Baltimore to keep.
• Denver ensured that Peyton Manning will be the Broncos' quarterback through at least 2014. The four-time MVP's contract called for a guaranteed salary of $20 million in 2013 and '14 if he was on the Denver roster Tuesday. The final two years of his contract are worth $19 million.
• The Chiefs agreed to a four-year, $16 million deal with tight end Anthony Fasano, a three-year, $12.6 million contract with defensive tackle Mike DeVito, and a three-year deal with Saints backup quarterback Chase Daniel.
• Teams also made cuts. The biggest were Ryan Fitzpatrick in Buffalo and Nnamdi Asomugha in Philadelphia.
The Bills' starting quarterback was released 1½ years after getting a six-year, $59 million contract extension. The Bills went 6-10 in 2011 and in 2012.
Bills general manager Buddy Nix said: “Difficult decisions often have to be made and so we are moving forward. Our focus remains on adding another quarterback to our roster, and we will continue to explore every option available to us.”
• Philadelphia released cornerback Asomugha, who two years ago got a five-year, $60 million contract with $24 million guaranteed when he left Oakland as a free agent. The Raiders cut ties with two former first-round picks by releasing starting receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and defensive back Michael Huff.
• Earlier, Tony Gonzalez changed his mind and decided to return to the Falcons. The NFL's career leader among tight ends in receptions and touchdowns said he was 95 percent certain he would retire after 2012, but the other 5 percent won out.
Gonzalez tweeted: “The lure of being on such a great team and organization, along with unbelievable fan support was too good to pass up.”
• Elsewhere, former Steelers running back Chris Rainey, released by the team after being arrested in January and charged with one count of simple battery, was back in Gainesville on Tuesday, watching former teammates take part in Pro Day. Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin were on hand for the workouts, but it was unclear whether Rainey spoke with them.
• The Jets restructured wide receiver Santonio Holmes' contract to free up cap space. He was due to make $11 million with $7.5 million guaranteed.
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