Ravens lose Dannell Ellerbe to Dolphins

The Ravens were unable to keep their top priority in free agency.

Free-agent inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe reached an agreement in principle with the Dolphins, according to the Baltimore Sun. That means both of the Ravens' starting inside linebackers from the Super Bowl, Ellerbe and Ray Lewis, won't be returning next season.

Ellerbe was the Ravens' best defensive player by the end of the team's Super Bowl run. This season, he finished second on the team in tackles (89) and sacks (4.5). Ellerbe is athletic and aggressive, who is just hitting his stride as an every-down player.

There was always a chance that the Ravens wouldn't be able to retain Ellerbe, but it's a surprise to see where he landed. The Dolphins were never heavily linked to Ellerbe. The Browns and Bills were considered the favorites to take him from Baltimore.

Inside linebacker now becomes a priority for the Ravens. Even the status of Jameel McClain, a three-year starter at inside linebacker, is uncertain after a spinal cord contusion ended his season last year.

The Ravens have now lost Ellerbe and Paul Kruger within the first two hours of free agency. Of their own free agents, the top priority now becomes safety Ed Reed.