The Ravens offseason youth movement continued on Wednesday as the team reportedly has cut linebacker and special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo.
The team made no official announcement, but the move was reported by Pro Football Talk, and later Ayanbadejo tweeted thanking the fans.
I would like to thank the city of Baltimore and the Ravens organization for an amazing ride. We will forever be united as champions!— Brendon Ayanbadejo (@brendon310) April 3, 2013
Ayanbadejo played the past five seasons with the Ravens, and he was re-signed to a new, three-year contract last March. He was due to make $940,000 this coming season, and the team’s cap savings with the move is about $800,000.
Ayanbadejo turns 37 in September, and with the retirement of Ray Lewis and Matt Birk, he would have been the oldest player on the Ravens roster this coming season. The Ravens offseason theme has been about getting younger and faster, and this move appears to be consistent with that.
Ayanbadejo has played 10 NFL seasons, an impressive run especially considering he was cut by the Falcons in his rookie training camp after being signed as an undrafted free agent in 1999. He then spent time in NFL Europe and the Canadian Football League before signing with Miami in 2003.
He spent two seasons with the Dolphins and three with the Bears before joining Baltimore in 2008. Ayanbadejo saw occasional action as an inside linebacker, but his primary role was on special teams, and he has long been viewed as the de facto captain of that unit.
Ayanbadejo made the Pro Bowl three straight years from 2006-08 as a special teams player, twice with the Bears and then once with the Ravens.
This past year, Ayanbadejo started three games at linebacker after Ray Lewis was sidelined with his triceps injury, and he finished the regular season with a career-high 30 defensive tackles. He also led the team with 14 special teams stops.
Ayanbadejo finishes his Ravens career with 83 defensive tackles, 4 ½ sacks and one interception. He also tallied 63 special teams tackles with the Ravens.
Ayanbadejo has also made news off the field for his strong support of same-sex marriage. Just this past week, he spoke at a rally in support of same-sex marriage outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
It seemed fitting he made reference to the move on Twitter; Ayanbadejo frequently interacts with fans on Twitter and also engages in frequent online debates with fans on gay marriage and other social issues.
Wide receiver Torrey Smith took to Twitter as well to react to the news.
Had a great time playing with @brendon310 he will be successful in whatever he chooses to do off the field— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) April 3, 2013