Ravens cut Calais Campbell to make room for Lamar Jackson's tag

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens released six-time Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell on Monday, which allowed the team to get quarterback Lamar Jackson's franchise tag under the salary cap.

The Ravens created $7 million in much-needed cap space by cutting Campbell, who had the fifth-highest cap figure ($9.44 million) on the team.

Campbell announced at the Super Bowl in February that he planned to return for his 16th season. At 36, he is the NFL's oldest active defensive lineman.

"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 field - are immense. With his passion, leadership and toughness, Calais has undoubtedly produced a Hall of Fame-worthy career."

DeCosta did not rule out a return for Campbell later in the offseason. "While this is the worst part of the business, we have not closed the door on the possibility of him returning to our team in the future," DeCosta said.

This move with Campbell is the latest and biggest by Baltimore to get under the salary cap by Wednesday after placing the $32.416 million nonexclusive franchise tag on Jackson. Over the last five days, the Ravens 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 one trade (safety Chuck Clark to the New York Jets for a 2024 seven-round pick).

Campbell is coming off a resurgent season in which he recorded 5.5 sacks. But Campbell has had some durability issues recently, missing a total of nine games the last three seasons. The Ravens could move Broderick Washington into Campbell's starting spot if they don't address the void in free agency or the draft.

One of the reasons for Campbell to return is reaching 100 career sacks. He currently has 99 sacks and acknowledged at the end of the season that the milestone is "not at the top of the list, but it's something I really want."

A second-round pick in 2008, Campbell has 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 registered a career-best 14.5 sacks for the Jaguars and finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting.

Campbell has also been recognized as one of the classiest players in the league. After this season, Campbell received the Art Rooney Sportsmanship award, which recognizes those who demonstrate integrity and honor on the field. In 2019, he was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.