OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP/WJZ) — Vonta Leach was released Tuesday by the Baltimore Ravens, who failed to agree on a restructured contract with the All-Pro fullback.
Leach was an integral part of a running game that helped the Ravens become champions last season.
Paving the way for standout halfback Ray Rice, Leach made the Pro Bowl in each of his two seasons with Baltimore and was a key figure in the locker room.
In 2012, he was a lead blocker for the offense and scored the most points (398) and the second-most total yards per game (352.5) in franchise history.
“He played a significant role in helping us get to the AFC Championship game in 2011 and win the Super Bowl last season,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said. “He added to our toughness and will to win. Plus, he provided leadership.”
After negotiations reached a standstill, both sides agreed it would be best to terminate Leach’s contract. But Newsome left open the possibility that Leach could return if he fails to find an adequate suitor in the free-agent market.
“We could revisit this before or during training camp,” Newsome said.
Baltimore began a three-day mandatory minicamp Tuesday without Leach, who ran 21 times for 67 yards and one touchdown while with the Ravens. He also had 36 catches for 212 yards.
The 6-foot, 260-pounder also played for the Houston Texans (2006-10), New Orleans Saints (2006) and Green Bay Packers (2004-06).
Leach is the latest in a long line of players cut loose or traded by the Super Bowl champs this offseason. The list includes wide receiver Anquan Boldin, safeties Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard, and linebackers Darnell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger.
In another move Tuesday, the Ravens re-signed tight end Billy Bajema, who played in eight regular-season games and four playoff games for Baltimore last season. Used primarily as a blocking tight end in run situations, Bajema did not have a catch in 2012.
In his career, the 6-4, 259-pounder has posted 38 catches for 398 yards and two touchdowns.
Bajema also played for the St. Louis Rams (2009-11) and San Francisco 49ers (2005-08), who selected him in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL Draft.