Releasing Bernard Pierce doesn't alter Ravens' plans

The Baltimore Ravens' plans for free agency and the draft won't change after Wednesday's release of running back Bernard Pierce. The Ravens already addressed the position in free agency when they signed Justin Forsett last week, and they have long been expected to take a running back in the first four rounds of this year's draft.

Pierce doesn't alter what the Ravens are going to do because, quite frankly, he wasn't going to be a big part of the offense in 2015. He had dropped to the bottom of the depth chart after his second straight season of averaging less than 4 yards per carry, and he would've been on the roster bubble this summer.

The Ravens are set with their top two running backs in Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro, and they should add another one in a running back-deep draft. The top four running back prospects have all been linked to the Ravens: Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon, Georgia's Todd Gurley, Indiana's Tevin Coleman and Northern Iowa's David Johnson. Gordon, the runner-up to the Heisman Trophy, is scheduled to make a pre-draft visit to Baltimore, according to Yahoo Sports.

If the Ravens draft a running back early, Pierce would've become a long shot to make the team because the Ravens typically don't carry four healthy running backs. So, why would the Ravens keep Pierce on the team? He was making a moderately low salary, and he was insurance if one of the Ravens' top backs got injured.

In the big picture, it was time to look past Pierce even before his druken driving arrest. He was entering the final year of his contract, and he had become an undependable runner and pass blocker.

The Ravens created very little salary cap room in cutting Pierce. They freed up $660,000 by releasing Pierce, but a player making $510,000 replaces him on the top 51 contracts that count against the cap. So, the Ravens net gain was $150,000 in cap space.

In all likelihood, Pierce was going to get cut before the start of the 2015 season. His arrest just sped up what many considered to be the inevitable.