The Baltimore Ravens released veteran running back Jamal Lewis on Wednesday, but are expected to re-sign him if he's still available after exploring the free agent market, according to team president Ozzie Newsome.
Newsome said the team has had "good dialogue" with agent Mitch Frankel regarding a new contract for Lewis. However, the Ravens cut Lewis rather than pay him a $5 million roster bonus due on March 5.
Lewis led the Ravens with 1,132 rushing yards in 2006 – the fifth time in six NFL seasons he's surpassed the 1,000-yard mark. However, Lewis' production has slipped since rushing for 2,066 yards in 2003 – the second-most in NFL history.
The Ravens don't anticipate the price tag for Lewis being very high as several running backs are projected to be on the market. Dominic Rhodes of the Indianapolis Colts and Ahman Green of the Green Bay Packers are set to become free agents. Travis Henry is likely to be cut by the Tennessee Titans if he does not restructure his contract and Willis McGahee of the Buffalo Bills is being made available via a trade.
Lewis' release is not expected to have much impact on the Ravens' ability to re-sign free agent linebacker Adalius Thomas. Thomas, a Pro Bowler, is still expected to be one of the top two or three highest paid free agents when players are allowed to sign contracts with new teams on Friday.