The Ravens parted ways with a fixture on their offensive line, cutting center Mike Flynn yesterday.

Long considered the emotional leader of the Ravens' offensive front, Flynn started the past eight seasons for the Ravens, including the past seven at center.


Only three other players - linebacker Ray Lewis, offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden and kicker Matt Stover - have been with the Ravens longer than Flynn.

"I'm a little surprised but not shocked," Flynn said last night from his Florida home. "As soon as they fired Brian [Billick], my antenna was up. Now, with it happening, I'm sad. I've been here 11 years, a third of my life. Some of my best memories in my life have been in Baltimore. Right now, it's tough."


Flynn, 33, who spent 10 seasons with the team, had been contemplating retirement at the end of last season, and teammates jokingly made "Mike Flynn Retirement Tour" T-shirts during the season.

It appears Flynn wants to continue playing, saying, "I think I still have a little left in me."

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said releasing Flynn was one of those "tough, sad days in this business."

"Mike Flynn represents everything good about the Ravens," Newsome said. "He fought his way into the NFL, he fought his way into the starting lineup, and he fought to help us win."

Newsome added, "When we list the true Ravens in our history - and there is a Ravens way that includes respect for your teammates and opponents, toughness, intelligence on the field, and passion for the game - Mike will be high on that list."

Flynn won a Super Bowl title with the Ravens in 2000 and blocked for Jamal Lewis during his 2,000-yard rushing season in 2003.

Although Ogden was the most acclaimed offensive lineman on the Ravens, Flynn was known as the fiery leader.

Jason Brown, a fellow lineman, sounded shocked by the news of Flynn's release.


"I'm sad that Mike had to be the consequence of a tough decision," Brown said. "Playing in between veterans like Mike Flynn and Jonathan Ogden, they have helped me and my career along by leaps and bounds. If not for them, I wouldn't be the player that I am today."

By cutting Flynn, the Ravens save $2 million - Flynn's scheduled salary in 2008, the final year of his contract - in salary cap room. Even with this move, the team heads into the start of free agency today with limited cap space (approximately $3.3 million).

Newsome said the Ravens won't be active in the early stages of free agency. This year's crop of free agents is considered a weak group because so many players received the franchise tag.

"Once the market settles, we'll start to pursue a couple of positions," said Newsome, who didn't rule out more cuts.

The Ravens could replace Flynn a couple of different ways.

The team might promote Chris Chester, a second-round pick in 2006, who failed to unseat Flynn at center last season.


Another possibility is moving left guard Brown to center, a position he played in college. The Ravens would then shift right tackle Marshal Yanda to guard and start Adam Terry and Jared Gaither at the tackle spots (assuming Ogden retires).

Flynn entered the league in 1997 as an undrafted rookie out of Maine.

He played on two practice squads (the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' and Jacksonville Jaguars') and was cut twice before landing a starting job with the Ravens in 2000.

He finished with 115 starts with the Ravens.

"I had a great run here," Flynn said. "I got to play in the greatest league and with some of the best guys to ever play the game. I leave with a lot of great memories."