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Former Ravens cornerback Chris Carr is a smart guy, a law student outside of football.
So he saw the writing on the wall.
On Friday, it became official that Baltimore released him. But Carr wasn’t startled.
“I’m going to miss everybody, but I’m not surprised,” Carr told BaltimoreRavens.com.
“When I got injured and young guys played well who are younger than me – and who get paid less than me in the future – business-wise it made all the sense in the world [to release me].”
Carr said that the four-year contract he signed last offseason was front-loaded. Thus, there wasn’t much of an attachment, or guaranteed money, beyond that season.
Still, Carr was reportedly due a $2.5 million base salary and carried a $3.45 million salary-cap figure into 2012. The Ravens, looking to free up cap space, made the decision to part ways.
The Ravens had a more unsettled cornerback situation last offseason before re-signing Carr.
Lardarius Webb was in place, but Domonique Foxworth was coming off knee surgery and their other starter, Josh Wilson, left for the Redskins. Baltimore scooped up Carr, who had started all 16 games for them in 2010, from free agency.
But after he missed seven games due to a nagging hamstring injury, Carr slid down the depth chart behind Webb, Cary Williams and first-round draft pick Jimmy Smith.
“You’re not going to keep four guys, three of them who have started at least a full season or more, and one guys who is a first-round draft pick,” Carr said. “It’s not really smart to keep four guys like that. That’s just too much talent back there.”
Carr met with General Manager Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh on Thursday. He said they thanked each other for the past three years together, and just talked about life.
“It was a cool talk. There was no animosity or long explanations,” Carr said.
“It was one of those things that I kind of wanted to happen, but I was ambivalent at the same time because I love Baltimore, I love my teammates, I love my fans. I can’t ever imagine having more fun than I had the past three years here. But at the same time, all good things come to an end.”
Now an unrestricted free agent, Carr said he’d like to go to a winning team where he will have a fair shake at earning a starting spot. The 28-year-old former undrafted free agent expects to have to work his way from the bottom up again.
From the Ravens’ perspective, they are losing an intelligent, behind-the-scenes leader in their secondary. Carr was highly regarded in the locker room, equally apt to chat about politics or rap music.
He was constantly stressing the importance of studying tape and communication to his younger teammates. Carr has been with Williams since his rookie year in Tennessee in 2008.
“Chris was the epitome of a professional,” Williams said. “He was very attentive to the details. He always wanted to find the specifics to make sure there were no mistakes, to ensure we’re out there playing our best football as a unit and playing cohesively.”
Without Carr, Williams said Baltimore will turn to a variety of other leaders.
Safety Ed Reed has always been a strong voice. Williams said “he’s the backbone that’s always been there, always been a constant.”
Another veteran, safety Bernard Pollard, is also a passionate, smart leader. As Webb’s role has grown with the team, he has also developed more of a voice, Williams said.
“I still think we’re strong,” Williams said of the secondary. “I think we’re going to take those values that Chris helped instill in many of us, and we’re going to apply those things to the game.”
The Ravens have young replacements for Carr already on the roster. Danny Gorrer, 25, played in 11 games and had four pass deflections last season. Chykie Brown, who Baltimore drafted in the fifth round last year, played in seven games and made four tackles.
“They’re going to be fine,” Carr said of his former teammates.
“I’ve been with Webby since he was drafted here, and I hope to think I taught him things about preparing for the game. I think he’s fine and he’s ready for it. I’ve seen Cary grow up a lot. I think guys know now that they have to be more responsible and do certain things.”