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Thursday, February 28
Updated: March 1, 3:38 PM ET
Ravens release seven, including Sharpe, Woodson news services

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Super Bowl champions from two years ago continue to vanish at an alarming rate.

Rod Woodson

Shannon Sharpe

More than $20 million over the salary cap in mid-February, the Baltimore Ravens completed their purge on Thursday, waiving Pro Bowlers Shannon Sharpe and Rod Woodson along with six others.

Sharpe is the NFL's all-time leader for tight ends in catches and yards and Woodson was named to the league's 75th Anniversary Team at cornerback before making the switch to safety. But age and high salary cap tags ended their days in Baltimore.

The New York Giants will be one of the teams interested in signing Sharpe, the New York Post reported on Thursday.

The Ravens also waived receiver Qadry Ismail, fullback Sam Gash, defensive end Rob Burnett, tackle Kipp Vickers and defensive tackle Larry Webster. Defensive tackle Tony Siragusa had already announced his retirement.

The Ravens also released defensive tackle Sam Adams on Thursday, according to the Baltimore Sun. The Ravens do hope to re-sign him.

Baltimore opted not to make qualifying offers to fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo, linebacker Brad Jackson and kicker Danny Kight.

Baltimore had $7 million shaved off its cap when the Houston Texans claimed starting linebacker Jamie Sharper and returner Jermaine Lewis in the expansion draft.

But that left the Ravens with plenty of payroll paring left to get under the $71.1 million salary cap by Friday.

An eight-time Pro Bowler, Sharpe just completed his second season with the Ravens and was halfway through a four-year, $13.2 million contract that included a $4.5 million signing bonus. He turns 34 in June. Known for his trash-talking as well as his pass-catching ability, Sharpe took some verbal shots at Ravens senior vice president Ozzie Newsome and coach Brian Billick in a Baltimore Sun story earlier in the month.

"I can see where they are headed when they take a linebacker like Jamie Sharper, who is 27 and one of the three best in the league outside of Ray Lewis, and put him on expansion," Sharpe told the newspaper. "I can see where they are headed when they take a player like Jermaine Lewis and put him out there. But Ozzie Newsome was executive of the year and Brian Billick is able to write books. What do I know? That's why they make the big bucks." Sharpe's release comes after a season in which he became the all-time leader among tight ends with 692 catches for 8,604 yards and was named to his eighth Pro Bowl.

Sharpe spent the first 10 years of his career with the Denver Broncos before he signed as a free agent with Baltimore and helped the Ravens win Super Bowl XXXV in January 2001. In his two seasons with Baltimore, Sharpe was the Ravens' primary receiving threat with 140 catches for 1,621 yards and seven touchdowns.

Woodson, who turns 37 in March, was named to the Pro Bowl for the 10th time in his 15-year career this past season. He signed with the Ravens as a free agent in 1998 after playing 10 years with the Pittsburgh Steelers and one season with San Francisco. Ismail, 31, caught a career-high 74 passes last season and is the leading receiver in team history.

Gash, who will turn 33 next week, is considered among the best blocking backs in the NFL and has helped the Ravens average 125 yards rushing per game over the past two seasons.

Ismail and Sharpe accounted for 46 percent of the team's receptions last season. Travis Taylor and Brandon Stokley are the only receivers on the roster who have caught an NFL pass and neither has made more than 42 receptions in a season.

Sharpe is the kind of pass-catching tight end the Giants have been missing ever since Mark Bavaro played for them. Sharpe, 33, caught 71 passes last season for 760 yards and two touchdowns. He has 692 receptions in his 12-year career for the Broncos and Ravens.

Sharpe and the Giants do have a history, albeit it is not a good one. During the preaseason, Sharpe commented that the Ravens could have beaten the Giants 50-0 in Super Bowl XXXV. The Giants lost that game -- played in January of 2001 -- 34-7. The Giants released five players themselves on Thursday, including linebacker Jessie Armstead.

"Money could be a sticking point, but I think he'd (Sharpe) like to come here," one source familiar with the Giants free-agent strategy told the Post.

Information from SportsTicker was used in this report.

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