The Ravens obtained $3 million in salary-cap space Tuesday when they officially cut Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach.
However, his departure also created a void on the roster by subtracting his toughness and
The Ravens released Leach after they were unsuccessful in attempts to restructure his contract to lower a $4.33 million salary-cap figure, a turn of events that came as a surprise to his teammates.
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He's visiting the Miami Dolphins today with a 6 a.m. flight to South Florida and has also fielded an inquiry from the New York Giants, according to a league source.
"That was weird when I heard about it," defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. "He’s a monster. He’s a great blocker, and it’s just going to be weird without him. He was definitely a character on our team. He was a good teammate, and I just wish him the best of luck wherever he goes.”
Leach has been selected to the past three Pro Bowls, drawing heavy praise for how he bulldozed linebackers.
"Vonta has been as much of the heart and soul of this team as anybody since he’s been here," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He’s been a great leader. He’s been a tremendous performer. He established the personality of our offense as a physical, hard-nosed unit over the last couple of years. I’m sure he’ll do very well, and I’m sorry to see him go.”
While Leach is in a job-hunting mode, the Ravens moved on immediately with rookie Kyle Juszczyk taking over his starting fullback position during a mandatory minicamp practice.
Drafted in the fourth round out of Harvard after catching 125 career passes for 1,576 yards and 22 touchdowns, Juszczyk is regarded highly for his hands and versatility. He plays the game with a different style from Leach, a punishing lead blocker.
“He’s exactly where we expected him to be," Harbaugh said of Juszczyk. "He’s smart, of course. He has picked it up very quickly, which you would expect. He has skills, he has ball skills, good football player.”
Where Juszczyk still has to prove himself in the NFL is as a blocker, but the 6-foot-1, 248-pounder displayed some pop in collisions with linebackers at the Senior Bowl.
"Kyle’s good," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "I know he’s a very versatile guy and a great athlete, so obviously we’re going to have to wait to see when we put on the pads in training camp to get a good sense for what he does with that kind of stuff. But he looks pretty good, so I’m sure he’s pretty good at that stuff."
When asked where Juszczyk stands out, Flacco replied: "I would just say his athleticism and the ways you can use him, catching the football, blocking, running the football, lining him up in diesel formations and having him run routes. So we’ll see.”