The Ravens have released veteran defensive lineman Calais Campbell, General Manager Eric DeCosta announced Monday, but there's a chance he could return.
All teams have to be under the salary cap by Wednesday at 4 p.m. Releasing Campbell reportedly saves the Ravens $7 million in salary-cap space and makes them cap compliant.
Campbell, 36, has played the past three seasons in Baltimore. He again decided this offseason not to retire and was still under contract for another year.
Campbell is still playing at a high level. He's coming off a strong 2022 campaign in which he logged 36 tackles, 14 quarterback hits, and 5.5 sacks, his most since joining the Ravens.
"Calais defines what it is to be a Raven," DeCosta stated. "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.
"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."
During his three years with the Ravens, Campbell posted 113 tackles, 11 sacks, 36 quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. In 2020, he earned Pro Bowl honors, while this past season, he was named the NFL's 2022 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award winner.
A six-time Pro Bowler and member of the 2010s NFL All-Decade Team, Campbell has played in 15 seasons and 227 games (208 starts), both ranking as the most among active NFL defensive linemen. He owns the most tackles (800) by an active NFL defensive lineman, while his 99 career sacks rank No. 9 among all active players. He's been clear about his desire to hit the 100-sack milestone.
The Ravens re-signed veteran defensive end Brent Urban already this offseason and every other defensive lineman is under contract. Still, filling Campbell's 6-foot-8, 307-pound hole on the defensive line would be a tall task, and losing his leadership on and off the field would also be tough.
Campbell can now weigh his options in free agency with the potential of returning to Baltimore as one of them.
"I'll talk to the front office and talk to the coaches and I'll think," Campbell said just after the Ravens’ season ended. "There's a chance I could be back here again next year; I just have to go through my process."
Campbell has been outspoken in his hope that Lamar Jackson stays with Baltimore. As much as Campbell wants sack No. 100, he primarily wants to get back to the Super Bowl for the first time since his rookie year in 2008, when his Arizona Cardinals lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers.