Carroll County Times

Ellerbe didn't expect to leave Ravens as a free agent

OWINGS MILLS - Out of all of the players the Ravens lost during free agency this year, inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe was likely the one Baltimore was most hopeful of retaining.
Ellerbe ended up signing a five-year, $35 million contract with the Miami Dolphins instead. But Ellerbe, whose Dolphins play the Ravens Sunday in Miami, said during a conference call with Baltimore media on Wednesday that he didn't originally expect to leave the Ravens as a free agent.
As Ellerbe put it, "I was sure that I was going to be back in black and purple."
Baltimore did offer Ellerbe a five-year contract, but it was reportedly for significantly less money than the deal Ellerbe ended up signing with the Dolphins.
But Ellerbe said his decision to leave the Ravens was about more than just the money.
"[Money] came into effect too," Ellerbe said. "But other than that, those other things weighed in heavy too because I would always be in the shadow [in Baltimore]. They're full of leaders that were picked up before I got there, so I feel like this was the best place for me."
Baltimore was able to replace Ellerbe with Daryl Smith, who the team has raved about since the beginning of training camp, but Ellerbe is still a talented young player who the Ravens would have liked to have had back.
Ellerbe, who signed with Baltimore as an undrafted free agent in 2009, developed into a viable starter during his four seasons with the Ravens and was arguably the best player on Baltimore's defense last year.
Ellerbe had 92 tackles and 4.5 sacks during the regular season last year despite starting just seven games. He also had 32 tackles in the Ravens' four playoff games.
He has a team-high 38 tackles so far this season, which is tied for the third-most in the league, and he could very well have an impact against Baltimore on Sunday.
"It looks like he's a leader for them, first of all," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He's done a great job. On the field, you can see he takes charge, he calls the signals, and he's a sideline-to-sideline linebacker, just like he has always been.
"If there's a screen out there, Dannell sniffs it out it seems like. He's just the same great player he was here."