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Ravens News 3/14: Campbell Cut and more

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NFL: Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens cut veteran DL Calais Campbell in cost-cutting move - Brian Wacker

Campbell, who was under contract for one more season, had a $9.4 million cap hit in 2023 and was scheduled to earn a $2 million roster bonus and $4.5 million in salary. By cutting him, the Ravens created $7 million in cap space, bringing them under the cap by about $750,000, according to Over The Cap.

With defensive starters Justin Madubuike, Broderick Washington and Michael Pierce all returning, along with Travis Jones coming off a solid rookie campaign and Brent Urban a contributor as well, the Ravens could also possibly afford losing Campbell.

Last season, Campbell’s third in Baltimore, he tallied 36 tackles, 5 1/2 sacks and 14 quarterback hits in 14 games and Pro Football Focus graded him as the NFL’s 15th-best interior defensive lineman. Over his past two years, PFF graded him in the 85th percentile of all players in pass rushing and in the 97th percentile against the run.

Ravens cut Calais Campbell to make room for Lamar Jackson’s tag - Jamison Hensley

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).

Ravens free-agency preview: As uncertainty with Lamar Jackson lingers, there’s still unfinished business - Jonas Shaffer

Most interesting unrestricted free agent: CB Marcus Peters

The Ravens have the fourth-least draft capital this offseason, according to Tankathon. They have the seventh-least cap space, according to Over The Cap. If DeCosta is going to invest heavily at a position of need, it can’t be on a high-risk player. All of which makes Peters’ situation so compelling.

In 2022, he showed the rust expected from a player who tore up his knee only a year earlier. He also showed the ball-hawking skills (one interception, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries) that have helped him garner three Pro Bowl selections. Peters’ football IQ makes him a good fit for coordinator Mike Macdonald’s more zone-heavy schemes. His passion and charisma make him a beloved teammate. If Peters, 30, is willing to take a discount to re-sign — “I want to stay,” he told The Ringer last season. “I think that it’ll be the best thing for me to end up here” — the possibility of a bounce-back year could be too much to pass up on.

Most reasonable outside signing: WR Darius Slayton

If the top free-agent wide receivers are out of the Ravens’ price range — Jakobi Meyers, JuJu Smith-Schuster and even Allen Lazard are all expected to command at least $10 million annually — they can still find help elsewhere. Slayton, a fifth-round pick in 2019, had at least 46 catches and 700 yards in three of his four seasons with the New York Giants. Last year, in a run-heavy Giants offense, he finished No. 30 overall among wide receivers in yards per route run, according to TruMedia, just behind the Seattle Seahawks’ DK Metcalf and just ahead of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Mike Evans.

Predicting the future of Ravens’ 15 unrestricted free agents - Jeff Zrebiec

Justice Hill, RB

Age: 25

2022 stats: Rushed for 262 yards on 49 carries and caught 12 passes for 58 yards while playing more than 50 percent of the team’s special teams snaps.

It wouldn’t be surprising if the Ravens brought Hill back. He’s solid depth at a position where Baltimore is lacking, and he’s made himself into a good special teams player. That certainly carries weight. At this point of his career, you’d have to think Hill is looking to play a bigger role on offense, and he’s never gotten that opportunity in Baltimore, where his career high for carries in a season is 58. A tepid free-agent running back market could limit Hill’s options, but you could hardly blame him if he looks for a change of scenery.

Verdict: Goes

Justin Houston, OLB

Age: 34

2022 stats: Recorded a team-high 9 1/2 sacks in 14 games to go along with an interception and a forced fumble.

DeCosta indicated that he doesn’t expect Houston to make a decision until closer to training camp, but the Ravens figure to leave the light on for him. He’s had 14 sacks in two seasons with the team and has made a strong impression as a veteran leader. The Ravens have young edge rushers Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo and veteran Tyus Bowser, but they have room for at least one more. If they’re looking for a veteran on a cheap one-year deal, they could do a lot worse than the venerable Houston.

Verdict: Stays

2023 NFL free agency grades: Signings, trades and latest transactions


Fit/need grade: B+

Value grade: B-

Contract: Four years, $51.5 million, $28.5 million guaranteed

PFF projected contract: Four years, $40 million ($10 million per year), $25 million total guaranteed

Powers is coming off a career year in which he stood out as one of the best pass-blocking offensive linemen in the league. His 86.5 pass-blocking grade ranked second to only Joe Thuney of the Kansas City Chiefs among all guards, and he allowed just 12 total pressures from 597 pass-blocking snaps over the season.

He’s not a dominant run-blocker — his career-best run-blocking grade (63.6) came back in 2021 — but his improvement as a pass-blocker is what saw him being hyped heading into free agency.


Fit/need grade: C+

Value grade: C-

Contract: Three years, $21 million ($7 million per year), $10.75 million guaranteed

PFF projected contract: Three years, $10.5 million ($3.5 million per year), $5.75 million total guaranteed

The former third-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars dealt with a few injuries in the early years of his career but has become a success story by cashing in here on a strong multi-year deal that includes incentives that could reportedly push the value up to $24 million.

We have seen pretty strong contracts for predominantly blocking tight ends in years past, including players like Nick Boyle and Tyler Kroft, who signed for similar deals. That’s what this is here, with Oliver amassing just 26 receptions for 230 yards over his first four NFL seasons.

Kevin O’Connell wants to be able to operate more effectively out of 12 personnel, and Oliver’s 74.6 run-blocking grade in 2022 ranked second among tight ends with at least 100 run-blocking snaps on the season.