It took Courtney Upshaw a little longer than most expected, but the strong-side linebacker became the latest Raven to find a job elsewhere.
Upshaw, who didn't miss a game in his four seasons with the Ravens, agreed to a deal with the Atlanta Falcons on Friday, a day after he visited the NFC South team. Terms aren't immediately known.
His departure from the Ravens was viewed as a formality after team officials conceded earlier this month that it was going to be tough to fit Upshaw under the salary cap. It leaves the Ravens without a single member of the eight-man 2012 draft class, which debuted during the team's Super Bowl XLVII season.
Upshaw joins quarterback Matt Schaub (Falcons), wide receiver Chris Givens (Philadelphia Eagles), offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele (Oakland Raiders), middle linebacker Daryl Smith (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and safety Brynden Trawick (Raiders) as 2015 Ravens who have signed elsewhere in free agency this offseason.
Quarterback Jimmy Clausen and defensive end Chris Canty are the top Ravens' free agents still looking for new homes.
A second-round pick in 2012 out of Alabama after the Ravens traded back into the second round, Upshaw didn't put up much in the way of statistics during his four seasons with the organization. He had 183 tackles, five sacks, three forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries in his Ravens career.
However, Ravens coaches and teammates loved to point out how Upshaw did all the little things and was one of the organization's most unheralded players.
"He's a man," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Upshaw in an interview at the NFL Scouting Combine last month. "He's in every special teams meeting, every punt protection practice. He's willing to do all the dirty work. He's got a great attitude. He's very smart. He's not the kind of guy that you want to see leave."
Upshaw started nine games as a rookie in 2012 and was a key member of the 2012 Super Bowl-winning team. Lauded for his toughness and durability, he started 51 of 64 regular-season contests. In his role as strong-side linebacker, Upshaw set the edge against the run and beat up running backs and tight ends at the line of scrimmage.
After Pernell McPhee left in free agency last offseason and Terrell Suggs sustained a season-ending Achilles' injury in a Week 1 loss to the Denver Broncos, Upshaw's role increased in 2015. Rather than just going to the sideline in obvious passing situations, Upshaw played in just over 75 percent of the team's defensive snaps.
He finished with career highs in sacks (two), forced fumbles (two) and fumble recoveries (three). However, Upshaw never developed into the type of pass rusher the Ravens hoped he'd become.
With Upshaw gone, the Ravens will depend more on second-year outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith, a fourth-round pick last year who had 5½ sacks in 15 games as a rookie. The Ravens also have Suggs and Elvis Dumervil returning on the outside, and they're expected to add another pass rusher this offseason.