Baltimore Ravens release veteran S Tony Jefferson; OL James Hurst suspended

Feb. 14 (UPI) — The Baltimore Ravens released veteran safety Tony Jefferson after three seasons, the team announced Friday.

Jefferson, 28, had his 2019 season cut short due to a torn ACL in his left knee. After his injury in Week 5, the Ravens’ defense performed better when Chuck Clark replaced him in the lineup.

“This is the worst part of this business,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said in a statement. “Tony is the consummate teammate and someone who is respected by everyone for his leadership, determination, humility and toughness. He’s a friend to all and a true Raven.

“We know he’s going to beat this injury, and we will be cheering for him all along the way. We wish the very best to Tony and his family.”

According to Spotrac, Jefferson received $19 million guaranteed on a four-year contract with the Ravens in 2017, but the defensive back struggled during his time in Baltimore. He recorded two interceptions, two forced fumbles and 11 passes defensed in 35 games with the team.

The Ravens are expected to save $7 million in cap space following the roster move.

“Tony is a tremendous leader, a true competitor, a team player and a family man,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said in a statement. “His time here has been a blessing. We have the utmost respect for his professionalism and positive contributions to our team and the Baltimore community. We wish he and his family the best going forward.”

After going undrafted in 2013, Jefferson played his first four NFL seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. In his seven-season career, he has tallied 451 total tackles, four interceptions, 8.5 sacks, 22 passes defensed and one defensive touchdown.

Meanwhile, the NFL announced Friday that it suspended Ravens offensive lineman James Hurst for the first four games of the 2020 season for a violation of the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

Hurst is eligible to take part in all preseason practices and games. He will be allowed to return to the team’s active roster on the Monday after the Ravens’ fourth regular-season game.