Ravens cut Mike Flynn

OWINGS MILLS -- After a decade of gritty dependability, the Baltimore Ravens' offense will no longer start every play with veteran center Mike Flynn snapping the football. The Ravens cut Flynn on Thursday, creating $2 million in immediate salary-cap savings as they parted ways with one of the final remaining holdovers from their Super Bowl championship team.

Jonathan Ogden, Matt Stover and Ray Lewis are the only players on the roster with longer tenures in Baltimore than Flynn.

"It's the business, so I wasn't surprised, I wasn't shocked," said Flynn in a telephone interview from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. "When you get to this point in your career, you tend to expect it. By the same token, it's sad. It's sad for the family. It's hard. It's emotional.

"I have no complaints. If I had to do it over again, I wouldn't change a thing. I've been there 11 years, we won a Super Bowl and I had a heck of a run. It's not going to be easy leaving there. I'm going to miss a lot of good people. Obviously, you realize it's not going to last forever."

Flynn, 33, was entering the final year of his contract, but had hoped to be back for one more season with the Ravens.

"It's a tough blow," said Mike Flynn Sr., Flynn's father, in a telephone interview. "It's kind of a shocker. He wasn't expecting it. He's at that age where he still really wants to play, and he would have loved to stay with the Ravens.

"It was a great run for him. He's had a good time in Baltimore, and so did his family. It's a blue-collar town with great people."

After starting 14 games at right guard during the Ravens' Super Bowl run, Flynn moved to center full-time the following season and replaced Jeff Mitchell.

Signed off the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad in 1997, the undrafted free agent out of the University of Maine developed into a mainstay on the offensive line who was regarded as a strong leader in the locker room. He started for the past eight years, including the last seven at center.

"There are sad, tough days in this business, and this is one of those," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement. "Mike Flynn represents everything good about the Ravens.

"He was a long-time leader on our team, especially among the offensive linemen. He fought his way into the NFL, fought his way into our starting lineup and he fought to help us win."

Flynn, who started 115 out of 134 career games for Baltimore, signed a five-year, $11.25 million contract in 2004 that included a $4 million signing bonus.

"Mike really enjoyed it there, it's been a good ride," said Ralph Cindrich, Flynn's agent. "From his perspective, Mike appreciates everything that happened with him in his career in Baltimore and how well he was treated."

One of Flynn's career highlights was blocking for running back Jamal Lewis, especially when the former NFL Offensive Player of the Year gained 2,066 yards in 2003 for the second-highest single-season rushing total in league history.

A native of Springfield, Mass., Flynn started all but one game last season and battled through injuries, including a bad knee, to start every game the previous two years. He was cut twice and was on two practice squads prior to settling in with Baltimore.

"His consistency is impressive," Newsome said. "He very seldom left the lineup because of injury, including last season. When we list the true Ravens in our history -- and there is a Ravens' way that includes respect for your teammates and opponents, toughness, intelligence on the field and passion for the game -- Mike will be high on that list."

Flynn said he wouldn't rule out playing for another team once he gets over his departure from Baltimore.

"The biggest thing is the mental drain right now," Flynn said. "It's hard to think about leaving a team you've been with for a long time. If an opportunity presents itself, it would be hard to compare to my time in Baltimore. Right now, it's definitely time to relax and smell the roses."

The Ravens have a few options for how to replace Flynn.

One scenario could involve shifting starting left guard Jason Brown back to center, where he has lined up previously in the NFL and was an All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection at the University of North Carolina. If that move transpired, it could trigger a line shuffle.

Ben Grubbs, last year's first-round draft pick who started as a rookie, could move from right guard to left guard, where he played at Auburn. Right tackle Marshal Yanda could shift inside to right guard, and Adam Terry and Jared Gaither could line up at left and right tackle, respectively, if Ogden retires.

A less complicated change would be to promote former second-round draft pick Chris Chester as the team's new starting center.

With a new coaching staff under coach John Harbaugh, including offensive line coach John Matsko, it's unlikely that any decisions on the depth chart will be made at least until the Ravens get back on the field for spring minicamps.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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