Ravens not expecting Thomas to return

OWINGS MILLS – All-Pro linebacker Adalius Thomas' eventual departure as a high-priced free agent is expected by the Baltimore Ravens, according to general manager Ozzie Newsome. When the Ravens declined to assign Thomas a $7.2 million franchise tag prior to Thursday's deadline, it all but assured his exit. Newsome acknowledged that reality Saturday at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.

The Ravens are under major salary-cap constraints as they are only $3 million underneath the league limit of $109 million.
"I think it was a fair decision," Newsome told reporters. "I think it was fair for the organization and it was fair for AD.
"From the time that I retired as a player, in every instance I've told every player, I can revert back to being a player myself. If you get a chance to make a lot, you should go and make a lot because your shelf life is so small."
The 6-foot-2, 270-pound Thomas is prized for his athleticism and versatility. He has lined up at all 11 defensive positions while operating out of 4-3, 3-4 and 46 defensive schemes. The former sixth-round draft pick from Southern Mississippi has 28 sacks since 2004, the most of any NFL linebacker during that period, including 16 in his past 21 games.
Newsome, who held preliminary discussions this week with running back Jamal Lewis about restructuring his contract prior to a $5 million roster bonus is due March 3, said he didn't know when asked about the chances of retaining Thomas.
"I'm hearing what's going to happen in his market, and it's amazing if the market heads in that direction because of the amount of cap room," Newsome said.
Potential salary-cap rich destinations for Thomas include: the San Francisco 49ers ($37.6 million), New England Patriots ($26.6 million), Cleveland Browns ($26.6 million), Green Bay Packers ($24.8 million) and the New York Jets ($20.8 million).
When asked how long it would take for his cell phone to ring with teams inquiring about Thomas, his agent, Bus Cook quipped: "Three or four minutes."
Meanwhile, Newsome likened this year's free agency signing period to last year when defensive end Tony Weaver, nose guard Maake Kemoeatu, punter Dave Zastudil, running back Chester Taylor and safety Will Demps all signed elsewhere. The Ravens' top priority free agents this year include offensive tackle Tony Pashos and reserve linebacker Jarret Johnson, a potential replacement for Thomas, and, to a lesser extent, fullback Ovie Mughelli.
The Ravens have traditionally followed Newsome's oft-cited axiom of: right player, right price.
"Right out of the gate, they were all gone," Newsome said. "We were fortunate to get Bart Scott back. The way we approach it, we come to a threshold to what we feel the player's value is in Baltimore and when we get beyond that, we don't mind them going out the door."
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland.

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