Even though it was a widely anticipated move, Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach’s release from the Ravens upset much of the fan base.
Leach, highly regarded as the best fullback in the game, is part of a dying breed. That said, it’s not typical to see the best player at their position last long during free agency. However, Leach was released over two weeks ago, and still has yet to sign with another team.
The day after his release, I along with other media members were discussing Leach and the general consensus was that we believed that he would likely have a new team by that weekend. Surprisingly, that hasn’t been the case.
Multiple reports around the inter-webs have stated that as many as eight teams have expressed interest in Leach, who visited the Miami Dolphins last week and has expressed interest in returning to his former team, the Houston Texans. The longer that Leach is humbled by the free agent market, the more likely it is that he could return to one of his former teams, the Baltimore Ravens.
Leach’s release was a power play by the Ravens, who were looking to free up cap space heading into the 2013 season.
The Ravens front office felt that Leach’s price tag (due to make $3 million in base salary in 2013) was too rich for what he contributed on the field (only being used in 42 percent of the team’s offensive snaps in 2012). According to the Baltimore Sun, Leach was asked to take a $1 million pay cut and recoup his money in incentives, which Leach’s representation felt were too difficult to reach.
The Ravens currently have $6,049,823 of cap space according to our “Capologist” Brian McFarland. This figure takes Leach’s release into consideration and the signing of TE Billy Bajema.
Many teams were likely hoping to get Leach on the cheap, signing him to a one-year veteran minimum deal, worth $940,000 given that Leach will be entering his 10th year of service in the league.
The Ravens drafted Harvard TE/FB Kyle Juszczyk in the fourth-round as their contingency plan if Leach was unwilling to reduce his salary. Even though the team prepared themselves to move on, it’s not that they wouldn’t like Leach back in Baltimore at a reduced price. Many teams will bid for Leach’s services, but the Ravens would likely offer the most money on the open market, though still not exceeding their original offer of a $2 million base salary.
It would be the best deal for Leach and it would be a good deal for the Ravens, considering their lack of veteran leadership in the locker room. After Leach’s release, his former teammates and coaches raved about how much they loved him. As a player with nine seasons under his belt who is still so highly regarded in the league, it’s worthwhile for the Ravens to work something out with Leach.
Hopefully they’re already communicating after what has to have been a humbling experience for Leach. At least we know the fan base will welcome him back with open arms. Though, in a reversal of roles, they’ll have to get through Ray Rice first.