In a move considered inevitable since the end of their Super Bowl championship run, the Ravens have decided to part ways with veteran guard Bobbie Williams.
Expected to either retire or be released, Williams officially saw his contract terminated on Friday afternoon. The move clears $1.2 million in salary cap space for the Ravens before the start of free agency on Tuesday.
“We were fortunate to have a man like Bobbie Williams on the Ravens last season,” general Ozzie Newsome said in a team statement. “His contributions and significance to the team went far beyond his play on the field – and he responded on the field every time we called him. Bobbie is first-class in every way.”
Signed in early June to a two-year, $2.925 million contract that included an $800,000 signing bonus, Williams bolstered the Ravens’ depth at an uncertain left guard position, but the 36-year-old started only six games as he split time with younger options Ramon Harewood and Jah Reid during the regular season. His fate was all but sealed in the postseason when the Ravens placed Reid on season-ending injured reserve and elected to move rookie Kelechi Osemele to left guard instead of putting Williams back in the starting lineup.
He spent most of training camp as the starting left guard, but durability was a concern as Williams was coming back from a broken ankle suffered late in the 2011 season. Scheduled to make $1.2 million in base salary for the 2013 season, the prorated amount of $400,000 for his original signing bonus will count against the Ravens’ salary cap in dead money.
Williams appeared in 13 regular-season games and was active for all four postseason games as the longtime member of the Cincinnnati Bengals finally tasted Super Bowl glory in his 13th professional season.
“Bobbie was a bigger part of the puzzle to win the Super Bowl than most people know,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “This is an outstanding person, and we loved having him on the Ravens. His maturity, leadership, practice habits and the way he played were all impressive for us.”
Originally drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the second round of the 2001 draft, Williams spent the bulk of his career in Cincinnati, playing eight seasons there. Thought of so highly by the Bengals organization, Williams was allowed to work out and rehabilitate his surgically-repaired ankle at Cincinnati’s training facility last spring despite the fact that his contract had already expired at the end of the 2011 season.
Williams is the second offensive lineman to depart from the Ravens this offseason, joining retiring starting center Matt Birk.