OWINGS MILLS — Offensive tackle Tony Pashosâ€™ dramatic emergence and improvement as a blocker is about to be rewarded, but it wonâ€™t be with the Baltimore Ravens.
Two days before the launch of the free agent signing period, Pashosâ€™ agent acknowledged that the gritty right tackle will not be returning to Baltimore.
Pashosâ€™ impending departure is for financial reasons, much like the decision the Ravens made to not use a $7.2 million franchise tag to retain All-Pro linebacker Adalius Thomas.
â€œThe deal on Tony is he will no longer be a member of the Baltimore Ravens,â€ said Rick Smith, Pashosâ€™ agent, in a telephone interview with the Times on Wednesday morning. â€œTheyâ€™re moving on from him like they moved on from Adalius Thomas.
â€œIâ€™m not sure where heâ€™s going to be, but Tonyâ€™s going to be somewhere else. There are no hard feelings. Itâ€™s a business decision.â€
The Ravens are only $3 million under the league salary-cap limit of $109 million.
In a thin free agent market where he and the Arizona Cardinals’ Leonard Davis are regarded as two of the top tackles available, Pashos could command a much larger signing bonus than Baltimore could afford under its tight salary structure. It would likely require restructuring contracts or releasing players to put together a large enough offer sheet to make it worthwhile for Pashos to bypass the lucrative offers heâ€™s expected to garner on the open market.
â€œIt has nothing to do with their evaluation of Tony,â€ Smith said. â€œThey have made the decision that theyâ€™ve got a solid foundation, and to sign guys back they would have to restructure guys and that could break up their foundation. Itâ€™s understandable, and Tony’s going be fine.â€
At 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds, Pashosâ€™ game is built around brute strength and solid technique as heâ€™s not a gifted natural athlete.
Drafted in the fifth round in 2003 out of the University of Illinois, Pashos became a full-time starter during the 2005 season, replacing Orlando Brown. He started every game last season for a line that set a franchise record by allowing just 17 sacks.
Pashos dieted and exercised down from 350 pounds, increasing his stamina, flexibility and footwork to transform from an overweight backup into a fit, effective NFL starter.
â€œI donâ€™t want to leave any stone unturned in making myself as good a player as I can possibly be,â€ Pashos said during training camp last summer. â€œThatâ€™s why I worked out so much and watched what I ate. It was a major life change for me. I just decided to take this as seriously as possible to compete.â€
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland