Ravens terminate Sanders' contract

OWINGS MILLS – One day after a football season marked by nagging injuries and limited production, Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Frank Sanders expressed hope that he would be retained.<br><br> However, the 31-year-old former Pro Bowl alternate's contract was ultimately terminated by the club on Tuesday after he caught just 14 passes with no touchdowns last season.<br>

Sanders' release follows the team trading this weekend for receiver Kevin Johnson and drafting Devard Darling in the third round.

"I'm pretty sure I'll be back," Sanders said after the Ravens' 20-17 AFC wild-card loss to the Tennessee Titans. "I have a contract. If they're going to restructure my contract, let me know."

Last spring, Sanders signed a four-year contract reportedly worth $8.8 million that included a $1.7 million signing bonus, 

NFL contracts aren't guaranteed. And Sanders was slated to be paid $2 million in base salary this season.

Sanders did secure his 500th career reception last season against the Denver Broncos, but his one-year stint with Baltimore began and ended inauspiciously. 

The ninth-year professional from Auburn dislocated toes on his first catch as a Raven in a preseason contest against the Buffalo Bills.

Then, he was wracked by back spasms before a regular-season game against the St. Louis Rams. His back also kept him out of the regular-season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Between 1997 and 1998, no NFL receiver totaled more third-down receptions than Sanders with 93 catches in that category.

Sanders was acquired by Baltimore to assume a mentor role to the team's young receiving corps.

"My desire is to be productive in my play, to score touchdowns, to move the ball up the field, to win ballgames," Sanders said after signing with the Ravens last spring.

Sanders' production had declined steadily, though, in recent seasons.

In 1998, Sanders caught a career-high 89 passes for 1,145 yards. 

By the 2001 season, though, he dipped to 41 catches. His production dropped to 34 catches in 2002 before going on injured reserve with a chronic foot problem.

NOTE: The team will introduce Johnson this afternoon in a press conference.

Aaron Wilson also writes for the Carroll County Times.

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