Despite reports to the contrary, it sounds like Calais Campbell‘s deal with the Jaguars is not set in stone. The defensive lineman could take less money to return to his birthplace of Denver rather than join up with Jacksonville, Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com tweets. Right now, the Broncos are offering him $13MM per year on a new deal. The Jaguars are offering upwards of $14MM per season. Right now, Campbell and his wife are weighing the Jaguars against the Broncos (Twitter link via Mike Klis of 9NEWS).
The Jaguars are armed with ample cap space this offseason and they were hoping to beef up their front seven with the addition of Campbell. The former University of Miami star, they hope, will join up with Malik Jackson, Dante Fowler Jr., Roy Miller, and Yannick Ngakoue to form a fearsome front four.
Recently, we identified the Broncos as a logical contender for Campbell. Now, they’re making a real play for him. The Broncos arguably would offer Campbell a better chance to win right away, and that’s probably a big factor for him as he enters his age-31 season. Campbell has been in nine playoff games with Arizona but has never won a ring.
Campbell, who played his high school ball in Denver, finished as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 3-4 defensive end last season. The Broncos had persistent trouble filling Jackson’s spot, and the gulf between Campbell and the other defensive end options could be sizable. Chris Baker also appeared on the Broncos’ radar, but Campbell has been a better player during his career.
Denver’s three-pronged strategy of Vance Walker, Adam Gotsis and Jared Crick to replace Jackson backfired when Walker tore his ACL and Gotsis proved too raw. Crick is under contract for another season but would fit more in a depth role. The Broncos still finished with the league’s top DVOA defense but struggled to stop the run, plummeting from third in 2015 to 28th last season.
The 6-foot-8 Campbell forced two fumbles, recovered three and registered eight sacks in 2016. Campbell would add to a Broncos team already tilted toward defense, financially and productivity speaking, if he backtracked on his Jaguars agreement and ventured back home. Without a franchise quarterback, the Broncos have most of their capital tied up in defense, having extended the likes of Von Miller, Chris Harris, Derek Wolfe and Darian Stewart over the past two-plus years.
Sam Robinson contributed to this report.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.