Jamison HensleyESPN Writer2 minute read
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens released six-time Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell on Monday, earning the team the franchise tag of quarterback Lamar Jackson below the salary cap.
The Ravens created $7 million of much-needed cap space by removing Campbell, who had the team’s fifth-highest figure ($9.44 million).
Campbell announced at the Super Bowl in February that he planned to return for his 16th season. At 36, he is the oldest active defensive lineman in the NFL.
“Calais defines what it is to be a Raven,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said in a statement. “He personifies professionalism and his contributions to our organization – both on and off the pitch – are immense. With his passion, leadership and tenacity, Calais has undoubtedly produced a Hall of Fame-worthy career.”
DeCosta hasn’t ruled out a return for Campbell later in the offseason. “Although it’s the worst part of the business, we haven’t closed the door on the possibility of him returning to our team in the future,” DeCosta said.
The move with Campbell is Baltimore’s latest and largest to go below the salary cap by Wednesday after placing the non-exclusive $32.416 million franchise tag on Jackson. In the past five days, the Ravens have opened up $14.8 million in cap space with one release (Campbell), two pay cuts (running back Gus Edwards and nose tackle Michael Pierce) and a trade (safety Chuck Clark to the New York Jets for a seven-round pick in 2024).
Campbell is coming off a resurgent season in which he recorded 5.5 sacks. But Campbell has had durability issues recently, missing a total of nine games over the past three seasons. The Ravens could move Broderick Washington to Campbell’s starting spot if they don’t fill the free agency void or the draft.
One of the reasons Campbell comes back is to hit 100 career sacks. He currently has 99 sacks and admitted at the end of the season that the milestone was “not high on the list, but it’s something I really want”.
A second-round pick in 2008, Campbell recorded 809 tackles and 237 quarterback hits while playing with the Arizona Cardinals, Jacksonville Jaguars and Ravens. He was selected First Team All-Pro after the 2017 season, when he recorded a career-high 14.5 sacks for the Jaguars and finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting.
Campbell was also recognized as one of the classiest players in the league. After that season, Campbell received the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, which recognizes those who demonstrate integrity and honor on the field. In 2019 he was named Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.