Ravens lose Kruger to Browns, Ellerbe to Dolphins (Boldin trade announced)

Losing linebacker Paul Kruger was considered inevitable because of the Ravens’ tight salary cap situation.

Less than an hour after the opening of free agency, that came to fruition, as Kruger agreed in principle to a five-year contract with the Cleveland Browns, according to ESPN. The deal is reportedly worth $7.5-8 million per year.

Kruger spent the first four seasons of his career with the Ravens, breaking out as the team’s top pass rusher in his walk year. The 27-year-old led the team with 13.5 sacks in 19 games, including the playoffs. The loss of Kruger is a significant one since Baltimore didn’t get to opposing quarterbacks with ease this year.

But in some regards, the former second-round pick is considered a one-trick pony, as he struggles in run coverage. Plus, a return to form for Terrell Suggs could help make up for Kruger’s production.

Update: The Ravens just officially announced the trade of wideout Anquan Boldin to the 49ers for a sixth-round pick. The deal is pending a physical.

General manager Ozzie Newsome issued a statement saluting Boldin:

“Managing and assembling your roster is difficult and among the most important things we do,” Newsome stated. “It is not always pleasant, and in the case of Anquan, it is unpleasant. We know he can still play at a high level. What he has done in his three seasons with us goes well beyond the numbers, and his numbers are very good. He fit in as a Raven from Day One. His leadership, just by the way he played and prepared, was a powerful force for us. And when we needed the tough catch in important times, he made those. Look at his production in our Super Bowl run. He stepped up in a big way. When he wasn’t targeted, or when we weren’t passing, his blocking was outstanding. We all thank ‘Q’ for what he did for the Ravens over the last three years.”

Update II: The Ravens have also lost out on their top free-agent target, their own Dannell Ellerbe.

The linebacker has agreed in principle to a deal with the Miami Dolphins, according to The Sun.

Ellerbe, 27, spent his first four seasons with the Ravens, making 182 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 46 games. He was projected as a possible replacement for retiring middle linebacker Ray Lewis, but the team will now have to look elsewhere.

Josh Bynes, an undrafted free agent signed by Baltimore in 2011, is perhaps the best internal option available.