The Baltimore Ravens today released 12-year veteran wide receiver Webster Slaughter, paring their roster to the NFL-mandated 65 and bringing into sharper focus their once-muddled receiving picture.
Slaughter, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, originally was signed by the team in June to add veteran leadership to its young receiving corps. In recent weeks, however, the emergence of second-year wide receiver Patrick Johnson and rookie Brandon Stokley spelled the end for the former Cleveland Browns and Houston Oilers standout, who had just three catches for 11 yards through three exhibition games.
With Jermaine Lewis, Johnson and Stokley having all but locked up roster spots, Slaughter was battling Qadry Ismail, Justin Armour, Floyd Turner and Billy Davis for the remaining two positions.
"This was a difficult move for me personally because I've known Webster for a long time," Coach Brian Billick said. "Webster's a special player and a special person. I wanted to give him a chance to try to get signed by another team."
Slaughter has 563 receptions for 8,111 yards and 44 touchdowns for his career, the first six years of which he spent with Art Modell's Browns. Last season with San Diego, he caught eight passes for 93 yards before suffering a season-ending finger fracture in November against the Ravens.
On Monday, the Ravens released five players, most notably former Seattle, Cincinnati and Atlanta running back Steve Broussard, and placed seventh-round pick safety Anthony Poindexter (Virginia) on the "physically unable to perform" list.
The roster must be pared to 53 by Sunday.
Note: Friday's noon preseason finale against the New York Giants at PSINet Stadium will not air live locally because the Ravens failed to sell the remaining 2,000 available tickets 72 hours before kickoff. The game will air tape-delayed on WJZ-13 at 1:30 p.m. and on HTS at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.