The Baltimore Ravens release veteran running back Justin Forsett, less than a month after re-signing him. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun video)

The Ravens released running back Justin Forsett  today, and it was no real surprise.

The telling sign of Forsett's future came Sunday, before the loss to the Oakland Raiders, when the Ravens deactivated him and went with Terrance West as the starter and Buck Allen as the backup.


From then on, it was only a matter of time before Forsett was released.

It's a smart move by the Ravens to part ways with Forsett. They gave him every chance to take over the starting role in the preseason and through the first three games, but the nine-year veteran never took advantage of the opportunity.

He didn't show any acceleration, and could no longer run through or avoid tacklers. Even on swing passes in the open field, Forsett had problems shaking linebackers one-on-one in the open field. That can't happen in the National Football League.

The Ravens will miss Forsett in the locker room. He was a leader and top character player who mentored the younger running backs.

But in the big picture, Forsett had a good career surviving in the NFL as long as he did with a journeyman's resume.

He was fortunate to play in Baltimore in 2014 when Gary Kubiak was the Ravens' offensive coordinator. During a previous tenure in Denver as offensive coordinator, Kubiak had a reputation for taking no-name running backs and turning them into 1,000 yard rushers. He did that in 2014 with Forsett, who ran for 1,266 yards and scored eight touchdowns.

It appears the Ravens will stay with West as the starter, but rookie Kenneth Dixon is the team's back for the future. He has the fastest feet of any of the runners, and his one-cut, straight-ahead style is made for the downhill running game in the Ravens West Coast offense.

If I was a general manager, I wouldn't sign any rookie running back after the initial three- or four-year deal. Life in the NFL is grueling on running backs, and most of them seem to fade after a couple of seasons. I'd just play them for several seasons and then bring in another one.

The days of the featured running back in the NFL appear to be over. Because of the spread and wide open passing offenses, they have become more of a complementary piece than a focal point.

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