Ravens defensive end Chris Canty is contemplating retirement after battling through a rough season in which he dealt with a staph infection in his wrist that required surgery and a lingering ankle injury.
Canty, 32, has one year remaining on his three-year, $8 million contract and is due a $2.66 million base salary next season.
Canty emphasized that he won't be making a hasty decision and plans to take his time to talk things over with his family. Canty is one of the Ravens' most respected locker room leaders, is active in the community and is the team's elected player union representative.
"I've thought about it," said Canty, who recorded 33 tackles, a half-sack and a forced fumble in 11 starts this season. "Obviously, a passion for playing on Sundays will never go away. I love this game. I love being a part of the National Football League, but obviously there's another side to it.
"You have to think about your future. You have to think, 'Can your body take the pounding going through a regular season and being able to stay healthy?' The last couple of years, I've been pretty banged-up. So, it's a situation where I'll take some time away from the game, spend some time with my family and make a decision when we have to make a decision."
Including previous stints with the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants, where he earned two Super Bowl rings, Canty has 339 career tackles, 21.5 sacks, five forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Canty said his decision will be dictated by how he feels physically and the quality of his play.
"Ultimately, it's whether I can do it or not at a high level," Canty said. "I don't want to go out on the football field and not be able to play at a high level. When you turn on the tape and you don't recognize yourself, that's a problem, and I never want that to be the case. So healthy enough and I feel like I can do it, then I'll do it. If not, then I'll move on."
Canty has several post-football career options, including broadcasting, and he is frequently in demand for interviews. Canty will work for NBC Sports at the Super Bowl.
The staph infection was a big deal for Canty this season, sidelining him for four games.
"I had surgery there during the course of the regular season, and it kind of knocked me down a little bit," he said. "At some point, you just get tired of being cut on. But I'm going to see how I feel during the course of the offseason. Obviously, it's a decision that my family and I will make together and see where it goes."
The Ravens dealt with a lot of off-field issues this past year, including the Ray Rice saga, and had 19 players placed on injured reserve.
"To be honest with you, I can't think of a team that has had to face the kind of adversity we faced this season," Canty said. "I hate to try to compare and contrast, but I couldn't be more proud to be a part of a group of men, team, an organization. Just the way that we approached everything, the way we've handled everything with class, taking things in stride and continued to push forward."
The finality of the season ending and the change that's about to unfold with the roster struck Canty on Sunday, one day after the Ravens' 35-31 AFC divisional round playoff loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
"In the NFL, there's so much turnover in the salary-cap era," Canty said. "That collection of individuals will never be the same. We understand the nature of the business, and that's why we try to make the most of this season, make the most of the 2014 Baltimore Ravens. Unfortunately, we came up a little bit short of our goal.
"But I couldn't be more proud of a group of men, the character of the guys in the locker room, the way they fought, the way they overcame adversity and obstacle after obstacle. We just kept showing up, just kept working, played their hearts out for each other. That is the essence of a team, I'm just thankful to be a part of it. Whether I continue playing or not, it's been great being a part of this organization, to to bottom, standup guys."