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In cost-cutting move, Ravens decline defensive back Brandon Carr’s 2020 contract option

The Ravens have declined defensive back Brandon Carr’s 2020 contract option, a cost-cutting measure that will make one of the NFL’s most durable players a free agent after three seasons in Baltimore.

Carr, 33, was due a $1.5 million roster bonus Saturday and a $4.5 million base salary this season, but the Ravens’ moves before and during this week’s legal tampering period created a need for salary cap relief. With his release, the Ravens also incurred $1 million in dead money.

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Over 12 NFL seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys and Ravens, Carr has started every regular-season and playoff game; his 192 consecutive starts are the most for a defensive player and the second most in the NFL, behind only quarterback Philip Rivers.

Last year might have been one of Carr’s most impressive. In a secondary that was remade over the preseason and regular season, he saw time as a slot cornerback, outside cornerback and safety, a position he had little experience with. He finished the year with 49 tackles and six passes defended while playing over 76% of the team’s defensive snaps. Pro Football Focus rated him the NFL’s No. 52 cornerback.

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“Anything that you throw at him – ‘Hey, Brandon, I need you to play safety.’ ‘Cool.’ ‘I need you to play nickel.’ ‘Cool’ — he can handle all of those positions," pass defense coordinator Chris Hewitt said last season. “There’s not too much that he hasn’t seen and hasn’t been able to handle.”

Carr, one of the most respected players in the Ravens’ locker room, said after the season that the “ball is in their court” and that he wanted to continue playing. But with the front office’s big-money investment in cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Tavon Young and safety Earl Thomas III, as well as cornerback Marlon Humphrey’s looming free agency, Carr will have to continue his streak elsewhere.

“I hope my body of work thus far has proven that I can play this game still at a high level, play safety," he said in January. "And I’m still learning, so I think I’ve still got some potential left at that position. But I just love playing the game of football, whether it’s safety, nickel, corner, special teams — whatever the case is, at this point, I just want to win.”

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