Ravens release Tony Jefferson; James Hurst suspended for PED use

The Baltimore Ravens cut ties with veteran safety Tony Jefferson on Friday, releasing him after his 2019 season was cut short by a torn ACL.

The Ravens saved $7 million in cap space with the move.

Jefferson, 28, received $19 million guaranteed on a four-year deal with the Ravens in 2017, but he never lived up to being a prized free-agent acquisition. He failed to consistently make impact plays, totaling 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles and 11 passes defensed in 35 games.

Jefferson's departure was sealed last season. After he tore the ACL in his left knee in Week 5, the Ravens defense played better when Chuck Clark, a 2017 sixth-round pick, replaced him.

Even though he disappointed on the field, Jefferson was one of the most respected players on the team because of his work ethic and football IQ.

After going undrafted in 2013, Jefferson spent his first four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. In seven seasons, Jefferson has recorded 450 tackles, 4 interceptions and 22 passes defensed.

Also Friday, the NFL suspended Ravens offensive lineman James Hurst for the first four games of the 2020 season for violating its policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Hurst is eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games. He will be allowed to return to his team's active roster on the Monday following the team's fourth game.

Signed as a rookie free agent in 2014, Hurst played in all 16 regular-season games for the Ravens last season, with two starts at left tackle. He was part of an offensive line that paved the way for an NFL-record 3,296 yards rushing in 2019.

Hurst, 28, signed a four-year contract in March 2018. He didn't miss a game over his first four seasons before being inactive for six games in 2018 with a back injury.

The Ravens signed former Cincinnati Bengals first-rounder Andre Smith last month to add depth at offensive tackle.