The Ravens announced outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson has died at age 26.
“We are profoundly saddened by the tragic passing of Jaylon Ferguson,” the team said in a statement released Wednesday morning. “He was a kind, respectful young man with a big smile and infectious personality. We express our heartfelt condolences to Jaylon’s family and friends as we mourn a life lost much too soon.”
The cause of death was not announced by the Ravens or agent Safarrah Lawson, who asked for “prayers and privacy” for his family in a separate statement. According to multiple reports, Baltimore City Police saw no signs of trauma or foul play upon arriving at a home on Ilchester Avenue and finding Ferguson unresponsive and being treated by medics. A Baltimore Banner report said the death is a suspected overdose based on items found at the scene, but the official cause has yet to be determined.
Preparing for his fourth NFL season, Ferguson had taken part in spring workouts and last week’s mandatory minicamp and drawn praise for his efforts before spraining his ankle on the penultimate day. The 2019 third-round pick out of Louisiana Tech appeared in 38 career games, making 10 starts and collecting 67 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks. Ferguson set the NCAA FBS record for career sacks in 2018.
Ferguson is survived by his partner, Doni Smith, and their three young children.
Below are statements from several teammates and head coach John Harbaugh, courtesy of the Ravens:
Head Coach John Harbaugh
“Jaylon was a good-hearted, gentle person who loved his family and his team. He was a joy to talk with and be around every day. You always wanted to see and talk to ‘Ferg.’ Our prayers and our help go to his family. Our hearts are with his Spirit. R.I.P., Jaylon.”
OLB Tyus Bowser
“Me and ‘Ferg’ went through some of the same struggles when it came to making a name for ourselves in the league. From that, we were able to gain an understanding and help each other build and grow as players. From the playbook, to the field – and even outside of work – we created a strong bond amongst ourselves. Whether I was having a bad day or vice versa, we encouraged each other, and that’s what I appreciated most and what I’ll miss about him. His positive energy, encouragement and his belief in me helped mold me into the player and man I am today. He will be missed but NEVER forgotten. Rest Easy, 45.”
DE Calais Campbell
“Jaylon was a great young man to be around. He usually had a big smile on his face and would lighten up the room with a joke. He was just a great, fun guy. He will be missed.”
S Tony Jefferson
“‘J Ferg’ had the most genuine energy I’ve ever been around. Before I left after minicamp in the locker room, he expressed how he was ready to have a big year, and I believed it was going to be his best season as a Raven. He will be watching over us, I know it, and he will bring the team closer just from his mark he left. He will definitely be missed. We love you, ‘Ferg Dog.’ May you continue to send your contagious energy to this team every day. We need it to get to where we want to get. You will never be forgotten in Jesus’ name!”
FB Pat Ricard
“My heart is broken for Jaylon and his family. This doesn’t feel real as I write these words. Life is too short to not cherish every moment and every person. Jaylon is someone I will cherish for the rest of my life. His smile and uplifting attitude are two things I will never forget. You’d find a smile on his face no matter how the day was going. His personality was infectious throughout the locker room, and there wasn’t a person in the organization who didn’t have respect for him. My deepest condolences go out to Jaylon and his family.”
T Ronnie Stanley
“Jaylon had a pure heart. He wanted to be a great player, but never tried to downplay his teammates to get there. While going against him in practice, he would always tell me when I was doing a good job, even when it meant it was against himself. He was always with a smile and had an eagerness to learn. He wanted to be better for himself and his kids. He was so excited every time he had a new kid who was about to be born. He always talked about them and how he plays for them.”