Kruger, a highly regarded pass rusher, is expected to command an expensive bidding war between teams like the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts, while the Ravens informed Williams that he's not a priority.

General manager Ozzie Newsome has expressed confidence that he can work something out with Reed.

“Now, the challenge for us is to keep as many good players as we can,” Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said during the NFL scouting combine. “That's really the challenge of this business, with the salary-cap constraints, is to keep your good players, and we're going to try to do that.”

Despite battling ankle, foot, back and thumb injuries, Ellerbe recorded a career-high 89 tackles, 4 1/2 sacks and a forced fumble last season.

Ellerbe had 32 tackles in the playoffs, including a team-high nine in the Ravens' victory over the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl, and he intercepted New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the AFC title game.

“I hope next year goes a bit smoother with injuries. I had some bad luck,” Ellerbe said. “It was tough, but if I played that well hurt, imagine how well I could play healthy.”

Ellerbe said he's feeling better now and didn't have to undergo any offseason surgeries. He has resumed speed work and weightlifting.

“Yeah, I'm feeling good,” said Ellerbe, adding that he currently weighs 240 pounds and is in good shape. “I'm all right. I'm just healing up for next season. I needed time off.”

Over the years, the Ravens have not always retained the inside linebackers who started opposite Lewis when they got to free agency. That included Bart Scott and Ed Hartwell, but the Ravens re-signed McClain last year on a three-year, $10.5 million contract.

This marks the first time, though, that Lewis is no longer a part of the Ravens defense.

“That's big,” Ellerbe said. “It's a huge opportunity with Ray retiring. Getting paid isn't everything I want out of playing football. I want to get the accolades. I want the Pro Bowls. I got enough years left in me. So, this is just the beginning.”

awilson@baltsun.com

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