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Sports

March 13, 2013

Gonzalez back to Falcons; Fitzpatrick cut by Bills

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 yesterday. 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.

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.

The 32-year-old Boldin expressed surprise that he was traded.

“I thought this was the last stop of my career but regardless of the circumstances I came here to win a Championship ... and in February we came home Champions,” he said on Twitter.

Ellerbe also tweeted as he took his talents to South Beach.

“Just wanna take time to THANK GOD for being in this position I’m in! Before I make da BIGGEST DECISION in my life I just wanna thank him!!!” Ellerbe said.

Kruger led the Ravens with nine sacks and added 2½ in the playoffs and two in the Super Bowl. But he was too expensive for Baltimore to keep.

Teams also made cuts yesterday. The biggest were Ryan Fitzpatrick in Buffalo and Nnamdi Asomugha in Philadelphia.

The Bills’ starting quarterback was released 1½ years after getting a six-year, $59 million contract extension. Fitzpatrick struggled after signing the new deal, and the Bills went 6-10 in 2011 and in 2012.

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