Pierce, 27, went from being an undrafted rookie from Samford in 2016 to one of the top young run-stuffers in the league with the Baltimore Ravens. His 151 tackles in that span are the third most among defensive tackles in the AFC North.
The 345-pounder was a cog for the NFL’s No. 5 run defense this past season, using his massive lower-body strength to seal off the interior alongside Brandon Williams. With those two on the field, Baltimore held teams to 3.5 yards per carry over the past two seasons. Without them, the Ravens gave up 4.9 yards per carry over that same span.
The Ravens knew they would not be able to re-sign Pierce because of their huge investment in Williams, who is scheduled to make $9.25 million in each of the next two seasons. Daylon Mack, a fifth-round pick in 2019, could replace Pierce.
Pierce weighed 390 pounds when he reported to last year’s June minicamp, and he was sent off the practice field by coach John Harbaugh. But Pierce lost 30 pounds by the start of training camp and finished the season with 35 tackles.
ESPN’s Jamison Hensley contributed to this report.