The Baltimore Ravens are paying the price for winning a Super Bowl.
The NFL champions lost two key components of their defense, linebackers Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe, as free agency began Tuesday. On Monday, they traded star receiver Anquan Boldin, a key to their title run, to San Francisco – the team the Ravens beat 34-31 to win the championship.
Kruger went north to division rival Cleveland for a five-year, $40 million deal, while Ellerbe headed south to Miami for $35 million over five years. Steelers receiver Mike Wallace joined Ellerbe in choosing the Dolphins.
The 49ers didn’t go untouched, either. After giving up a sixth-round draft pick for Boldin, they saw tight end Delanie Walker leave for Tennessee.
San Francisco also confirmed the trade of backup quarterback Alex Smith to Kansas City, a deal that was known for weeks. The 49ers will receive the Chiefs’ second-round pick, 34th overall, in this year’s draft and a conditional pick in next year’s draft.
Kansas City was busy finding support for Smith on both sides of the ball. The Chiefs agreed to a four-year, $16 million deal with tight end Anthony Fasano, a three-year, $12.6 million contract with defensive tackle Mike DeVito, and a three-year deal with Saints backup quarterback Chase Daniel.
Teams also made cuts Tuesday. The biggest were Ryan Fitzpatrick in Buffalo and Nnamdi Asomugha in Philadelphia.
The Bills’ starting quarterback was released 1 1/2 years after getting a six-year, $59 million contract extension. For now, the Bills’ No. 1 quarterback is Tarvaris Jackson.
Philadelphia released cornerback Asomugha, who two years ago got a five-year, $60 million contract with $24 million guaranteed when he left Oakland as a free agent. Tony Gonzalez changed his mind and decided to return to the Falcons.
The NFL’s career leader among tight ends with 1,242 receptions and 103 touchdowns said he was 95 percent certain he would retire after 2012, but the other 5 percent won out.
Around the league
The Oakland Raiders have cut ties with two former first-round picks by releasing starting WR Darrius Heyward-Bey and DB Michael Huff. … Dallas LB Anthony Spencer has signed a $10.6 million one-year tender while seeking a long-term deal. … Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III says his surgically repaired right knee is “doing good” and he will be ready to play next season.