Cutting Chris Canty leaves void for Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens undoubtedly made the right business move Friday when the team released defensive end Chris Canty.

It was a no-brainer from a salary-cap standpoint because Canty is a declining player at the age of 32, and the Ravens needed the $2.66 million of cap space created by cutting Canty. The Ravens don't expect much of a dropoff at defensive end with Brent Urban, a promising 2014 fourth-round pick who is making 84 percent less in base salary.

But the Ravens will feel the loss of Canty. While he didn't live up to expectations on the field during his two seasons with the team, he exceeded them off it with his much-needed leadership and maturity.

Canty proved valuable during one of the most difficult seasons in franchise history, one that included the Ray Rice scandal and Haloti Ngata's suspension. He stepped up and addressed the media during those uncomfortable times when most of the other players avoided the locker room, and he did so while providing insight and emotion. When Rice was released after the second video showed him striking his now-wife, Canty had tears in his eyes when he said: "You hate the sin but you love the sinner."

On most of the pressing issues, Canty was the voice of the defense and Torrey Smith was the spokesman for the offensive side of the ball. Canty served as the team's players union rep, a sign of how much his teammates respected him.

"We are a better franchise for having Chris Canty with us the last two years," coach John Harbaugh said. "When we were handling serious off-the-field issues last season, Chris stood out internally with our team and represented us externally in the only way you expect from Chris -- with intelligence and in a first-class manner."

This was the Ravens' second move of the week in which they cleared salary. On Wednesday, they released returner Jacoby Jones.

Last season, Canty missed five games due to injury and didn't make a tackle in three other games, including the divisional playoff loss at New England. This marked the first season since 2009 that he didn't record a full sack.

General manager Ozzie Newsome thanked Canty when informing him of his release.

"He represents the best of what a Ravens player is: committed on the field and a shining leader in the community," Newsome said.

If Urban or the other young players struggle in offseason workouts or in training camp, the Ravens may reach out to Canty if he is still available.

"We certainly would not close the door to Chris coming back to us," Newsome said.