The Baltimore Ravens have terminated the contracts of vested veterans FB Vonta Leach and LB Jameel McClain, general manager/executive vice president Ozzie Newsome announced Thursday.
“Vonta and Jameel are two of our most important players over the last few seasons, helping us to the playoffs and giving the Ravens the Super Bowl win after the 2012 season,” Newsome stated. “Vonta proved to be one of the best fullbacks in the league, plus he added leadership and toughness to our offense. Jameel is a Ravens’ success story who came to us as a rookie free agent. He changed positions from playing on the defensive line and outside to becoming a good inside linebacker and starter. People close to our team understand his commitment to being the best he can be and the leadership he gave on and off the field.
“There could come a point later on when we would consider bringing back Vonta and Jameel. They are our types of players.”
A 10-year NFL veteran and three-time Pro Bowl selection, Leach spent the past three seasons with the Ravens, earning All-Star honors twice (2011-12). Seeing action in 146 career games (79 starts), Leach originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Green Bay Packers in 2004. In his three seasons with the Ravens, he played in all 48 games (36 starts) and served as the lead blocker for RB Ray Rice, who was tabbed as a Pro Bowler during the 2011 and 2012 campaigns.
“He’s the big, physical fullback you like to have when you pound the ball and are on special teams,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “And, who doesn’t like Vonta? He’s fun to be around, and his personality helped lift the energy at a lot of practices. People know we like to be physically dominating, and when we did that in recent years, Vonta was a big part of that.”
McClain, a six-year NFL veteran, originally signed with the Ravens as a rookie free agent in 2008. Seeing action in 87 career games (55 starts), he recorded 338 tackles (214 solo), 4.5 sacks (-33.5 yards), one interception, 10 passes defensed, three fumble recoveries (one returned for a touchdown) and one forced fumble. McClain’s 338 stops rank 17th on the Ravens’ all-time tackles chart, while he also registered a franchise-record two safeties (both during his 2008 rookie season).
“There is so much to like about Jameel, the player and the person,” Harbaugh added. “He’s a true leader, and his story from rookie free agent to NFL starter is one of the best in the league. You give him so much credit for finding a way to become the player he is. He’s one of those guys who gets the most out of his ability. He has a lot of football left, and maybe, that could be with the Ravens down the line.
“Both of these men helped the Ravens win a lot of games and the Super Bowl Championship. We are thankful for all they gave us.”
McClain earned the team’s 2013 Ed Block Courage Award after returning from a spinal cord contusion injury he sustained in 2012. Missing the final three regular season games and each playoff contest in 2012, McClain then sat out the first six games of the 2013 campaign before returning for its final 10 contests (all starts). He totaled 50 tackles (27 solo) and one forced fumble last season.