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Ravens release Chris McAlister this afternoon

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As has been suspected, reported and speculated, the Chris McAlister era in Baltimore has come to an end. ProFootballTalk.com first reported that McAlister will be released. His $8 million base salary was too much for Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh to stomach. His antics at the team’s hotel in Miami were legendary and it was no secret that Harbaugh thought the team was better off without him. And, of course, the team came four minutes away from going to the Super Bowl without him.

Newsome met with McAlister earlier today in Owings Mills and told him that he would be released.

Here is the Ravens’ official press release:

Feb. 16, 2009

For Immediate Release

McALISTER

The Baltimore Ravens terminated the contract of CB Chris McAlister this afternoon, it was announced by Ozzie Newsome, the team’s general manager and executive vice president.

McAlister, a three-time Pro Bowl standout, played 10 seasons for the Ravens after being selected in the first round (10th pick) in the 1999 draft. A starter on the 2000 Super Bowl championship Baltimore team, “C-Mac” produced 26 career interceptions, good for third place on the franchise’s all-time list (behind S Ed Reed, 43, and LB Ray Lewis, 28). McAlister also scored seven career touchdowns – six by interceptions and one on a missed field goal return, which set a then-NFL record for longest play (107 yards).

McAlister, who will be 32 in June, played in six games in 2008, starting five, before being placed on Injured Reserve with a knee injury on Nov. 11. Before being hurt, he stole three passes and made 19 tackles (17 solo).

“First, we want to thank Chris for all he did for the Ravens in the past 10 years,” Newsome explained. “He was a major contributor to many big wins, including the Super Bowl. To play the type of defense we have used here, you have to have corners who can cover one-on-one. He was one of the best at that for us. He was physical, and he could run with the best.”

“All of us who had the opportunity to coach Chris for the first time this season have an appreciation for all the good things he did for this team through the years,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He’ll be remembered by us and the fans as one of the best to ever play for the Ravens. He’s a tough guy and loves football. He’ll play again, and he’ll play well.”

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