Ravens release Jamal Lewis but hope to get him back
General manager Ozzie Newsome said the team still hoped to re-sign him.
The agent for the running back, Mitch Frankel, said Lewis' release wouldn't impede the negotiation process.
"It's been indicated to us that they would like to have Jamal back and Jamal would like to be there," Frankel told the Baltimore Sun. "So I think there's a good chance that he could be back."
Lewis ran for 2,066 yards in 2003, the second-highest total in NFL history. His numbers slipped after that -- his 1,132 yards last season were his most since then, although he averaged just 3.6 yards per carry.
Lewis, 27, spent the 2005 offseason serving time in prison after a guilty plea to using a cell phone to set up a drug buy. He also has had ankle problems.
The Ravens' first pick in the 2000 draft, Lewis was due a $5 million roster bonus on March 3 along with a $5 million base salary for the 2007 season. The Ravens have spent the last week negotiating with Mitch Frankel, his agent for a deal that would be more cap friendly.
"There has been good dialogue," Newsome said. "Jamal has been a significant contributor to us in the last seven seasons. It's our hope to have him back with the Ravens."
Still, releasing Lewis, who carried a salary-cap figure of $11.6 million, creates $8.3 million in cap room. Baltimore is now roughly $11.3 million under the league salary cap limit of $109 million. Lewis was paid $6 million last season, including a $5 million signing bonus.
Last week, the Ravens decided not to assign a $7.2 million franchise tag to Pro Bowl linebacker Adalius Thomas, ensuring his eventual departure as a high-priced free agent.
If the Ravens part ways with Lewis, it would leave them with only veteran Mike Anderson, who carried just 39 times for 183 yards last season. Also on the roster is P.J. Daniels, a fourth-round draft pick from Georgia Tech who didn't get into a game as a rookie last season.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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