Calais Campbell

AFC Notes: Campbell, Patriots and Jets Cap

Many in and around the league were shocked that the Ravens were able to acquire defensive lineman Calais Campbell from the Jaguars for just a fifth-round pick. Baltimore had limited cap space entering the offseason, but decided the value was too good to let the opportunity to add Campbell go. However, it appears Campbell had his eyes set on the Ravens as well. According to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic, Campbell agreed to take less money from Baltimore than he would have received elsewhere because he believed the organization is well equipped to win moving forward.

Here are some more notes from around the AFC:

  • Mike Reiss of ESPN details the Patriots salary cap situation in his weekly quick hits piece. Reiss notes that with at least 20 roster spots left to fill, more than $25MM in dead money on the books for next season, and nearly zero remaining cap space remaining, the team will likely need to make some cap-saving move (whether through an extension, pay-cut, or release). Most notably, New England’s strapped cap situation makes it hard to envision them finding a way to add a free agent quarterback like Cam Newton or Jameis Winston.
  • Like New England, the Jets have very little cap flexibility remaining for this offseason. However, unlike their division-rival, New York is gearing up to be a major player in next year’s free agency, according to ESPN’s Rich Cimini. The majority of the Jets spending this offseason has been on one-year deals once they missed out on their top targets and now the team is set to have more than $80MM in cap space (per Over the Cap estimates).

Contract Details: Falcons, Ryan, Eagles, Slay

Earlier this week, the Falcons restructured deals with Matt Ryan and others to carve out a bit of extra breathing room. Today, we got some additional details on that adjustment, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

Here’s the breakdown: Ryan’s base pay for 2020 will go down from $8MM to $1.05MM. Meanwhile, tackle Jake Matthews will see his base number trimmed from $10.55MM to $3.55MM. In both cases, the difference was converted to a signing bonus. In effect, it doesn’t change much for either player, but it does allow the Falcons to kick the can down the road and spend more this year.

Here are more deetz from around the NFL, with all links going to Twitter:

Ravens Finalize New Deal With Calais Campbell

The Ravens have a new two-year deal worth up to $27MM, including $20MM guaranteed, with recently acquired defensive lineman Calais Campbell, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Baltimore acquired Campbell for a fifth-round pick from the Jaguars earlier Sunday. Unloading the $15MM cap hit on Campbell’s contract seemed to be the only plausible motive for Jacksonville to move a player of Campbell’s caliber for such a minuscule return. However, the Ravens appear to be lowering that cap number in exchange for some longer-term guarantees.

Campbell has consistently ranked among the best defensive lineman in football over his 12-year career. While Campbell will turn 34 in September, he has yet to show his age much on the field. In fact, Campbell ranked as the second-highest graded edge defender by Pro Football Focus out of the 107 qualified players. Per more traditional metrics, Campbell recorded 56 combined tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks.

Not only has Baltimore acquired a difference-maker for their defensive front without sacrificing much draft capital, they now have secured his services for an additional season.

Jaguars To Trade Calais Campbell To Ravens

The Jaguars and Ravens have agreed to a trade that will send veteran DE Calais Campbell from Jacksonville to Baltimore in exchange for a fifth-round pick, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). The Ravens will try to work out an extension with Campbell.

The extension aspect of this is critical, as Baltimore does not have a ton of cap space, and Pro Football Talk tweets that the Ravens will be taking on the full $15MM owed to Campbell in 2020. An extension for the 33-year-old will obviously help to spread out Campbell’s cap charge, as would a long-term deal for the recently franchised Matt Judon.

From an on-field perspective, the trade makes plenty of sense for Baltimore. Pass rusher was perhaps the top item on the team’s offseason priority list, but almost all of this year’s top edge defenders who are eligible for free agency are expected to remain with their current teams. So GM Eric DeCosta got creative, and while the Ravens will be left without a fifth-rounder in the 2020 draft, they still have two third-rounders and three fourth-rounders to work with.

Campbell, the reigning Walter Payton Man of the Year, earned Pro Bowl nods in each of his three seasons with the Jags, and though his sack total dipped to 6.5 in 2019 after posting double-digits in 2017 and 2018, he still graded out as the third-best edge defender in the league last year, per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics. He is stout against the pass and run, and his ability to collapse the pocket should only create more opportunities for Judon and promising second-year talent Jaylon Ferguson.

The Jags, meanwhile, have recently parted with two formerly prized FA acquisitions in Campbell and corner A.J. Bouye. Both players were key members of Jacksonville’s run to the AFC Championship Game in 2017, but the Jags are clearly in rebuild mode. In addition to the $15MM of cap space created by this move, Jacksonville now has 11 draft picks in 2020 and nine in 2021, including two first-rounders.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Bennett, NFLPA, Cap, Kirksey

Although Michael Bennett went through a nomadic late-2010s stretch after the Seahawks traded him in 2018, he remained productive. The veteran defensive lineman has registered 15.5 sacks over the past two seasons and is a free agent for the first time since 2013. Bennett, who signed with the Seahawks in 2013, would like to return to the team to which he’s most linked. Asked if he would want to play for the Seahawks again, the 34-year-old defender said “hard yes.” Bennett, though, has not yet committed to playing a 12th NFL season.

I would love to end my career in Seattle,” Bennett said, via Joe Fann of NBC Sports Northwest. “It’s not up to you, though. It’s up to the team.”

The Seahawks gave Bennett two contracts, including a three-year, $31.5MM extension in 2016. That contract was set to run through 2020, but after the Eagles and Patriots traded him, Bennett and the Cowboys restructured the deal to direct him toward free agency this year. Seattle has most of its pass rushers — including Jadeveon Clowney and Jarran Reed — as impending free agents, so the franchise will have critical decisions to make in the next week and change.

Here is the latest from around the league, moving first to the reconfigured NFLPA:

  • Russell Okung has enjoyed an eventful March, being traded from the Chargers to the Panthers and filing an unfair labor practice charge at the NFLPA staff. As for Okung’s status with the union, he will no longer be part of the NFLPA’s executive committee, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Okung dropped his bid for NFLPA president, throwing support behind Michael Thomas in a race that went to Browns center J.C. Tretter. Both of the players Tretter beat out for the job — Thomas and linebacker Sam Acho — will stay on as executive committee members.
  • Calais Campbell, Malcolm Jenkins and Wesley Woodyard will replace Mark Herzlich, Zak DeOssie and Adam Vinatieri on the executive committee. They will join Tretter, Acho, Thomas, Richard Sherman, Ben Watson, Alex Mack, Lorenzo Alexander and Thomas Morstead on the 11-man committee, the union announced.
  • Rumblings about the salary cap rising to around $230MM by 2021 have surfaced, but the 2020 cap will not move too far from the previously estimated $200MM amount. If the players approve the CBA proposal, the highest the cap would surge to in 2020 would be $206MM, per Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic (subscription required). While the salary ceiling could climb significantly by 2023, if the league’s TV negotiations go well, those spikes will not come until at least 2021.
  • Christian Kirksey may have a chance to land on his feet before free agency. Recently released by the Browns, the veteran linebacker has three visits scheduled, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com tweets. Kirksey’s travel itinerary is not yet known, but the 27-year-old defender’s first visit is scheduled for Wednesday morning.
  • The Texans will take a look at a notable wide receiver soon. They will work out former Broncos rotational cog Jordan Taylor, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle notes. Taylor has not played since the 2017 season. He spent 2018 on the Broncos’ PUP list, and though he caught on with the Vikings last year, the 28-year-old target did not see game action.

This Date In Transactions History: Jaguars Sign Calais Campbell

Three years ago today, the Jaguars landed one of the top defensive free agents on the market. Defensive end Calais Campbell agreed to a four-year, $60MM deal with the club, bringing even more power to the Jaguars’ potent front seven. 

Campbell was thought to be on the radar for a number of clubs in this cycle, including the Titans, Broncos, Colts, Bears, and Redskins (the reported runners-up). The Cardinals, ideally, would have liked to keep him, but the numbers crunch of the offseason made that nearly impossible. Besides, they traded for Chandler Jones one year prior, making Campbell something of a luxury rather than a must-keep player.

Campbell may have been motivated by the Jones acquisition – in his walk year, the 6’8″, 300-pound force tallied eight sacks en route to his second career Pro Bowl appearance. He also entered the market with a proven record of getting to the quarterback: He registered 56.5 sacks over the course of nine seasons in Arizona, a total that’s even more impressive when you consider that he had zero sacks as a rookie in 2008.

This Jaguars front office was not shy about spending on the defensive front and they did it again with Campbell, even though he was entering his age-31 campaign. Presumably, they placed the high bid on the veteran, and it paid off. Campbell logged a career-high 14.5 sacks in his first season with the Jaguars and earned First-Team All-Pro honors for the first time. In the last two seasons, he’s been a Pro Bowler with a combined 17 sacks in that stretch.

Now, the Jaguars have some decisions to make. This year, he’s entering his age-34 season with a projected cap hit of $17.5MM. The Jaguars could save upwards of $15MM by cutting ties, though it would be in their best interest to hammer out an extension that would smooth out his cap hit. With a new deal, the Jaguars can free some some extra dollars to be spent later this month and potentially lock down Campbell for the rest of his career.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Jaguars DEs Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue

Count Jaguars owner Shad Khan among those who’d like to see the team’s top defensive ends return to Jacksonville next season. Khan told Jaguars.com’s Ashlyn Sullivan that the organization wants to retain both Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue (via John Oehser of the team website).

“Both of those players – Yannick and Calais – I had chats with them after the season,” Khan said. “I would love for them to be back and I’m very hopeful they’ll be back.”

We heard back in January that the Jaguars’ front office had made Ngakoue a priority, and rightfully so. The 24-year-old had another standout season in 2019, finishing with 41 tackles, eight sacks, six passes defended, and four forced fumbles. The former third-rounder will hit unrestricted free agency this spring, but Oehser is confident he won’t be going anywhere; if the two sides can’t agree to an extension, there’s a good chance the Jaguars slap Ngakoue with the franchise tag.

Campbell is a different story, as the veteran has a cap hit of $17.5MM in 2020. The team could save upwards of $15MM if they moved on from the 33-year-old, but there’s a better chance that the two sides will work on an extension that lowers that cap hit. Campbell hasn’t missed a game since joining the Jaguars, and he finished the 2019 campaign having compiled 6.5 sacks. The lineman is also well-respected, and he was the team’s first ever recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

“I think he’s a fabulous guy and I think his contributions … everybody understands, knows, respects,” Khan said.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars Decline ASJ’s Option

Nearly a month after Austin Seferian-Jenkins bid farewell to the Jaguars, the team announced the tight end’s Jacksonville stay will indeed be limited to one year.

The Jaguars declined the $4MM 2019 option on Seferian-Jenkins’ contract. He will become a free agent when the new league year opens March 13. This move will save the Jags $4.3MM. The Jags had until 11pm Monday to make these decisions.

One of Jacksonville’s high-priced defensive linemen will be staying, however. The Jags picked up Calais Campbell‘s $3MM 2019 option. Campbell is on the Jags’ books at $14.5MM this coming season.

ASJ signed a two-year, $10MM deal with the Jaguars in 2018. He did not contribute much on a woeful offense, heading to IR after five games. After somewhat of a bounce-back season with the Jets, Seferian-Jenkins posted just 90 receiving yards last season. He will head to free agency without much momentum. The former second-round pick is still just 26, however, and should receive another opportunity on a light tight end market.

While Campbell will be part of the 2019 Jaguars, it is not certain two of his defensive line mates — Malik Jackson and Marcell Dareus — will join him. His playing time having diminished last season, Jackson said he expects to be released. A Dareus cut would save the Jags nearly $11MM, while jettisoning Jackson would bring exactly $11MM in savings for a Jags team that, even after the ASJ move, remains over the projected salary cap.

Jacksonville also exercised $750K options for defensive end Lerentee McCray and safety Cody Davis.

Jaguars, Calais Campbell To Discuss Deal

Thanks to his four-year, $60MM deal signed in 2017, Calais Campbell is set to carry a hefty cap number in 2019. The Jaguars probably want to tamp that number down one way or another and Campbell is open to suggestions. 

I think it’s more with restructuring with an extension,″ Campbell said (via John Reid of the Florida-Times Union). ″That’s the only way to do it and that’s something that was talked about that could possibly happen.″

Right now, Campbell is set to carry a $14.5MM cap figure in 2019. If the Jaguars can smooth out that hit, they can use some of those funds to address other holes, such as the quarterback position. The Jags have been widely connected to Nick Foles, for example, and he won’t come cheap as several other teams are also in the hunt for QB options in a thin market.

Even with a projected cap increase of 6%, the Jaguars presently have just $3.57MM in cap space. Something has to give, and adjusting Campbell’s contract could go a long way towards giving the team some much needed flexibility.

Campbell crushed it in Year One of his contract as he set a franchise record with 14.5 sacks. Last year, he led the team with 10.5 QB takedowns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals’ Calais Campbell Offer Topped Out At $9MM AAV

The Cardinals were not willing to enter the same ballpark as the Jaguars or Broncos did in the Calais Campbell sweepstakes in March.

An Uninterrupted video (YouTube link) reveals Campbell wanted his agent, Tom Condon, to take the Jaguars’ $15MM-per-year offer back to the Cardinals to see if they’d match. Condon was fairly certain the Cardinals wouldn’t, and although he did call GM Steve Keim back, both Keim and Cards football administration director Mike Disner told the agent they didn’t want to hear Jacksonville’s updated offer because they did not believe they could match whatever it was.

This video lists the Cardinals’ top proposal at $9MM AAV over three years, and the Cards are categorized as being out of the running early in the frenetic process.

Campbell said $15MM per year would have been enough for the Cardinals to keep him off the UFA market. The 31-year-old defensive end felt his age would keep him off the Fletcher Cox/Muhammad Wilkerson/J.J. Watt tier — each makes north of $16MM annually — but viewed $15MM annually as a reasonable goal.

The Jaguars ended up meeting that standard on the fourth offer. Jacksonville initially offered $11MM per year, which Washington matched, according to the video. Both teams then submitted $12MM-AAV proposals. The Jags improved their proposal to $14.75MM per year, inducing a celebration from Campbell and his inner circle. The video does not show an additional Redskins proposal.

But the Broncos’ offer — one confirmed to be for $13MM annually with $26MM guaranteed in the first two years of the deal (Jacksonville’s pact came with $30MM guaranteed in Years 1-2) — “changed the game” for the Denver native. While some members of his camp thought the Broncos were the better legacy play, Campbell also said the Jaguars were building something. Campbell mentioned earlier in the video the Redskins, on the surface, presented a better chance to win the Super Bowl than the Jaguars.

The Jaguars elevated their proposal to the $15MM-per-year target Campbell sought, though, and he decided to choose the Jaguars over the Broncos. Denver’s three-year offer included a third-year option for $10MM, Campbell said in this piece.

The video also shows Campbell calling former Detroit Pistons and Denver Nuggets stalwart Chauncey Billups for advice. Condon mentioned the state income tax disparity between Florida and Colorado as a selling point for the Jaguars. Condon chuckled over the phone when Campbell asked him to see if the Cardinals would match the Jaguars’ $15MM-per-year offer, but Campbell insisted his agent make the call anyway.

Campbell played nine seasons with the Cards. His age-31 season’s off to a banner start. He leads the NFL with four sacks after leading the charge in the Jaguars’ 10-sack performance against the Texans.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.