NFL Notes: Ed Reed to join Texans; Bears cut Urlacher

BALTIMORE — For so long, they had been the two faces of one of the league’s most dominant defenses, Ray Lewis the punishing tackler and Ed Reed the unrelenting ball hawk. Now, they are both gone and the mass exodus from the Ravens defense continues.

About six weeks after Lewis retired following his last game as a Raven, Reed moved closer to signing a two-year deal with the Houston Texans, who aggressively pursued the 34-year-old safety during the last week. Terms of the deal aren’t known and there are still a few things that have to be worked out, but it’s clear that Reed and the organization that he had played with for the last 11 years have parted ways.

Reed becomes the sixth key defensive player to leave the Ravens following their Super Bowl XLVII victory and the seventh starter overall. His departure and the release of Bernard Pollard leave the Ravens without their two starting safeties from last season. They did re-sign veteran James Ihedigbo but have no one else at the position with significant experience. They are planning to bring in former Oakland Raiders safety Michael Huff on a free agent visit over the next few days.

Reed’s loss continues an offseason trend in which the Ravens’ roster has gotten considerably younger, cheaper and thinner. Lewis and center Matt Birk have retired. Boldin, a wide receiver, was traded. Guard Bobbie Williams and Pollard were released. Linebackers Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe and cornerback Cary Williams have left in free agency.