The Baltimore Ravens made another tough business decision to become cap compliant ahead of the start of the new league year by releasing veteran defensive end Calais Campbell on Monday, March 13, as a result of using the nonexclusive franchise tag on MVP-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson.
“Calais defines what it is to be a Raven,” 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.”
Campbell was slated to make $6.25 million in the second year of a two-year contract he signed last offseason with a cap hit of $9.4 million per spotrac.com. With his release, the Ravens opened up $7 million in cap space after they traded safety Chuck Clark and restructured the contracts of running back Gus Edwards and defensive tackle Michael Pierce in the last week.
The six-time Pro Bowler was acquired via trade during the 2020 offseason from the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for a fifth-round pick. In his three seasons with the Ravens, the Walter Peyton Man of the Year Award winner started 40 of the 41 games he appeared in and recorded 113 total tackles including 14 for a loss, 11 sacks, 36 quarterback hits, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, and 9 pass deflections according to Pro Football Reference.
DeCosta didn’t rule out and definitely left the door open for a scenario in which Campbell returns to the Ravens for what would likely be on a lesser contract at a later point.
“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,” he stated.
Lamar Jackson’s Contract Could be Key to a Potential Return
Campbell’s release was necessary for the team to make room for their star quarterback’s 2023 cap hit of $32.4 million on the nonexclusive tender. According to NFL.com Insider Ian Rapoport, his potential return to the team could be tied to Jackson’s contractual status as well.
“Campbell could return if Baltimore gets some cap relief (i.e. in a QB deal),” he reported.
The future Hall of Famer announced his intention to continue his playing career at the Super Bowl for the second year in a row. At this stage of his career, he likely only wants to play for a contender that will give him the best chance to win the championship that he nearly achieved as a rookie with the Arizona Cardinals in 2008.
If Campbell does not return, the Ravens’ cupboard is not bare on the defensive line but it definitely got thinner in terms of true difference-makers in the trenches on that side of the ball.
The front office prepared themselves for this possibility by re-signing veteran defensive end Brent Urban to extend his second stint with the team. They also still have defensive tackle Justin Madubuike who they draft in the third round in 2020 and is coming off an underrated breakout season where he recorded a career-high 5.5 sacks which tied Campbell for the second most on the team.
Ravens Starting Guard Agrees to Deal With Broncos: Report
Powers was expected to garner a near top-of-the-market deal for his position and according to Rapoport, his new contract is reportedly worth $52 million with $28.5 million guaranteed. That averages to an annual salary of $13 million per year.
The former fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma went from being on the roster bubble to winning the competition for the starting left guard spot and had the best season of his career. He appeared and started in every game, didn’t miss a single snap, and according to Pro Football Focus, he finished as the second-best guard in the league in pass blocking.
During his end-of-the-season press conference, Ravens’ general manager Eric DeCosta expressed that the team was proud of how far Powers had come as a player. While he didn’t rule out possibly retaining him, he admitted that doing so wouldn’t be easy as he rightfully believed Powers would be in high demand.
“Ben is a guy who we’d love to keep,” he said on January 19, 2023. “My feeling is Ben is probably going to be sought after in free agency, based on the way he played this year.