Harbaugh discusses decision to release Cousins

As you might imagine, NFL teams aren’t too fond of having to cut ties with high draft picks.

Today, the Ravens gritted their proverbial teeth and released offensive lineman Oniel Cousins.

A third-round pick in 2008, Cousins never developed as the Ravens had planned at offensive tackle. The team moved him over to guard last week, but he became expendable after the signings of left tackle Bryant McKinnie and tackle/guard Mark LeVoir.

“It’s a tough business, it’s a tough league,” head coach John Harbaugh said today. “There’s a lot of factors that go into it in terms of who we’re bringing in right now and the mix of the young guys and the veteran guys. I think he got squeezed out from a numbers perspective and a salary perspective.”

Cousins was due to make $1.2 million this season, which would have been far too much for a guy as low on the depth chart as he would have been.

The UTEP product came into camp battling with rookie Jah Reid for the Ravens’ starting right tackle position, but fell down a slippery slope. He struggled early on and was shifted to backup guard following the Ravens’ second preseason game, then was bumped out of that role when LeVoir was signed and subsequently inserted at right guard on Thursday against the Redskins.

By releasing Cousins now, the Ravens will allow the fourth-year pro a chance to catch on with another team before the final week of the preseason. The Browns appear to be one team interested in Cousins’ services.

“This decision was made basically last night, so it was thought through,” Harbaugh said. “For him to get a chance now to get out and negotiate his deal and get with a team where he’ll have a chance ... personally, I think his future is at guard. I think he can do it. But it’s going to take an opportunity where someone has a need for that guy, and he can get in there and go to work on it.

“With our situation with Jah being young and Mark coming in, it kind of squeezed him out.”

Fellow offensive lineman Michael Oher said he was sad to see Cousins, who was drafted one year ahead of him, get let go.

“This is the business we’re in,” Oher said. “Great guy. We’re going to miss him. Hard worker. Shouldn’t be a problem for him finding a job, but you hate that he left. He has the attitude of a Raven. We’re going to miss him. Wish him luck.”

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