Calais Campbell

AFC North Notes: Ravens, Lamar, Steelers

In a press conference this past Thursday, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta spoke to the future of several Ravens players as the team heads into the offseason. Although the free agency of quarterback Lamar Jackson is obviously the main headline of Baltimore’s offseason, DeCosta still has plenty on his plate from key free agents like cornerback Marcus Peters and offensive guard Ben Powers to veterans flirting with retirement like defensive tackle Calais Campbell.

Peters is headed towards free agency this offseason after three seasons in Baltimore. The Ravens have been fairly top-heavy at the cornerback position in the past few years with Peters and Marlon Humphrey. They invested some draft capital in the position last year, selecting rookies Jalyn Armour-Davis and Damarion Williams, but due to experience and injuries, they were still forced to rely on contributions from the likes of Daryl Worley and Kevon Seymour. The team signed free agent Kyle Fuller in the offseason, but a Week 1 knee injury knocked him out for the year. DeCosta hinted that the team will continue to try and add more talent at cornerback regardless of whether or not they are able to re-sign Peters.

Powers continued his play this year as a full-time starter and had his best NFL season in a contract year. He may follow the likes of former Ravens’ linemen like Ryan Jensen and Kelechi Osemele, who priced themselves out of a new contract in Baltimore in the past.

The Ravens were able to sign trade acquisition Roquan Smith to a long-term deal and now are faced with the contract situation of fellow linebacker Patrick Queen. Queen’s play elevated substantially while playing alongside Smith and has the Ravens considering his future going into this offseason. DeCosta said he isn’t ready to announce that they will pick up Queen’s fifth-year option, but he made sure to clarify that Smith’s contract won’t preclude them from signing Queen long-term.

Lastly, the Ravens have two esteemed veterans that could consider hanging up their cleats. Campbell mulled retirement last season and will likely kick the idea around a bit once again this offseason. Pass rusher Justin Houston is under contract for another season but could potentially call it a career. He stated recently that he does intend to keep playing, and both athletes met with DeCosta before leaving town for the offseason.

Here are a few more rumors from around the AFC North, starting with the main storyline for the offseason in Charm City:

  • Ryan Clark referenced a debate on ESPN’s first take recently about the details of offers made to Jackson. A source provided knowledge that the Ravens’ initial offer had $113MM in guaranteed money and that offer was eventually upped to $133MM. That guaranteed amount doesn’t come anywhere close to Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson‘s $230MM guaranteed contract, but the second offer would be the most guaranteed money to any quarterback in the NFL besides Watson.
  • The Steelers’ coaching staff is set to undergo some changes this offseason. According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, one coach on his way out is assistant wide receivers coach Blaine Stewart who is set to join the staff at West Virginia University. Stewart’s father, Bill, served as head coach of the Mountaineers from 2008-10.
  • The Buccaneers parted ways with offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich at the end of this season. The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly speculated that, unless Leftwich finds work elsewhere as an offensive play caller, the former Steelers quarterback could find a role as an offensive assistant on Mike Tomlin‘s staff. Kaboly posits that a role as senior offensive assistant/passing-game coordinator could be in play for Leftwich. Leftwich would essentially be a coordinator-in-waiting as current offensive coordinator Matt Canada is in the final year of his contract.

AFC Rumors: Ravens, Collins, Bengals, Henry

Ravens defensive lineman Calais Campbell missed Sunday’sgame against the Falcons as he continues to deal with a knee injury suffered a week prior in the team’s loss to Cleveland, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Yesterday’s absence was only his second of the season, an impressive showing for the 36-year-old who has showed a consistent sturdiness for his entire career.

The wording of Fowler’s tweet was a bit unclear. He stated that “Campbell could miss some time” due to the injury, which could be interpreted as a potential extended absence for the defensive leader. Fowler’s tweet, which came earlier this week, also questioned the status of this week’s game against the Falcons, indicating that perhaps the uncertainty of “could miss some time” was not pointed towards how much time he may miss but if he would miss time at all. Regardless, Campbell sat out Saturday’s game and, after the team clinched a playoff spot with a win, he may be able to take a little extra time to rest up for a postseason run.

The team also played without rookie outside linebacker David Ojabo yesterday. Nine months after a torn Achilles injury, Ojabo finally made his NFL debut against the Browns last week, playing one defensive snap and four special teams snaps. He wasn’t listed on the team’s injury report, but whatever Ojabo is dealing with, he returned back to the inactive list this week.

Here are a few other injury rumors from around the AFC, starting with two division rival players in Cincinatti:

  • Bengals tackle La’el Collins left Saturday’s win over the Patriots with a knee injury, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Reportedly, initial concerns were about an ACL injury, but the ligament is believed to be intact. The new understanding is that Collins’ kneecap shifted out and then back into place, resulting in the significant pain that required him to leave the game. More tests will follow to determine the severity of Collins’ knee injury.
  • Bengals pass rusher Trey Hendrickson started yesterday for the Cincinnati defense despite his broken wrist and likely plans to continue to start for the remainder of the season, according to Paul Dehner of The Athletic. Hendrickson reportedly confirmed that his wrist is broken but explained that “multiple doctors” told him that the injury cannot worsen. He has the ability to play through the injury with no need of a club; he will have full hand and finger mobility. As long as Hendrickson can manage and play through the pain, he will be able to continue contributing to the AFC North leaders.
  • Patriots tight end Hunter Henry left Saturday’s loss with a knee injury after only one drive, according to the team’s official Twitter account. Henry was unable to contribute to the box score before leaving. Henry, who has dealt with multiple knee injuries over his career, is considered day-to-day and will undergo further tests this week. If Henry misses any time, veteran tight end Jonnu Smith would be the next man in line for snaps. Unfortunately, Smith exited yesterday’s game with a concussion, so he, too, will have some work to do to play next week. If neither player can go when the team hosts the Dolphins next week, New England may have to turn to practice squad receiver Scotty Washington who is sometimes listed at tight end, as well.

Ravens DL Calais Campbell Hints At Retirement After 2022

After flirting with the idea of retirement late last season, Ravens defensive lineman Calais Campbell decided to return for a 15th season back in April. This season, the 35-year-old didn’t wait for the end of the year to start up the retirement talk once again, according to Nick Shook of NFL Network. 

“I know I’ve got this year in me,” Campbell said about his future in the league. “I don’t know if there’s anything left after that, but I’m going to leave it all on the field. Empty the tank. And when it’s all said and done, after this year, I’ll reconvene in the offseason to see where I’m at.

“But, right now, I’m preparing like this is my last year. So, I’m going to give it everything I have.”

The six-time Pro Bowler, 2017 All-Pro, 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year, and second-place finisher for the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year award has seen much of his success come as a veteran. Through his first six years in the league with the Cardinals, Campbell totaled a not unimpressive 36.5 sacks, 63.0 tackles for loss, and 72 quarterback hits. But his next six seasons (three in Arizona and three in Jacksonville) saw him rack up 51.5 sacks, 88.0 tackles for loss, and 129 quarterback hits, along with all the accolades at the top of the paragraph, minus one Pro Bowl earned in 2020.

None of this to diminish his early success in the NFL, the point to draw from those statistics is that age is just a number to Campbell. He has seen his returns diminish a bit over his two years in Baltimore, but Campbell refuses to disappear. Campbell showed flashes of his usual brilliance in Week 6 of 2020, when he won AFC Defensive Player of the Week for recording 4.0 tackles for loss, four quarterback hits, and 3.0 sacks on then-Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, and in Week 5 of 2021 when he fueled a Ravens’ comeback victory by blocking a Rodrigo Blankenship field goal attempt while down eight points late in the fourth quarter.

If we’re to take Campbell’s words seriously, that he plans to “empty the tank,” there’s no reason to believe he can’t reach the levels of success he saw that helped to birth the moniker of “Sacksonville” during his time with the Jaguars. We’ve seen Campbell record a career-high 14.5 sacks at the age of 31. We’ve seen him make the Pro Bowl at the age of 34.

Campbell will turn 36 just before the start of the 2022 NFL season. As the oldest defensive lineman on an NFL roster, he’ll begin the first year of the two-year deal that brought him back to Baltimore. Campbell isn’t focused on finishing that contract, though. Many players are encouraged to play each snap as if it’s their last. Campbell will have the rare opportunity to take that saying literally.

Browns, Chiefs, Colts Pursued DL Calais Campbell

Although Calais Campbell will play his age-36 season in 2022, the Ravens needed to fend off a few suitors to re-sign the accomplished defensive lineman.

The Browns, Chiefs and Colts showed interest in Campbell, according to USA Today’s Josina Anderson (on Twitter). Campbell elected to re-sign with the Ravens on a two-year deal that guarantees $6MM and could pay up to $16.5MM.

A six-time Pro Bowler, Campbell has thrived with three teams and in both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes. The trio of clubs pursuing Campbell use 4-3 alignments, though that distinction matters less in the sub-package-ruled modern game, but each team joins the Ravens as contenders in what has become a deep AFC.

Kansas City certainly has a need for pass-rushing help. Frank Clark has largely not delivered on the monster extension the Chiefs gave him and faces a suspension. The team lost interior pass rusher Jarran Reed in free agency and has yet to re-sign Melvin Ingram. The Chiefs’ 31 sacks last season ranked 29th. Cleveland has yet to re-sign Jadeveon Clowney and has needs at defensive tackle as well, with Malik Jackson hitting free agency and Malik McDowell nontendered as an RFA following an offseason arrest. The Colts added two-time Campbell teammate Yannick Ngakoue via trade and feature highly drafted youngsters Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo alongside DeForest Buckner up front.

The Ravens expressed interest in D-linemen this offseason, and Campbell fills a short-term need. Interior linemen Brandon Williams is a free agent, joining edge rusher Justin Houston. Both are going into their age-33 seasons. Derek Wolfe is considering retirement after injuries kept him off the field last year. Baltimore did bring back nose tackle Michael Pierce, whom the Vikings released last month. The team’s deal with Za’Darius Smith fell through at the 11th hour, with the Vikings eventually adding the Pro Bowl edge.

Ravens Re-Sign Calais Campbell

Calais Campbell is returning to Baltimore. The Pro Bowl pass rusher is re-signing with the Ravens, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). It’s a two-year deal for Campbell, and the defender is now expected to finish his career in Baltimore. Per Josina Anderson on Twitter, the deal has a max value of $16.5MM, and the deal contains $6MM in guaranteed money (Twitter link).

While Campbell left the door open to retire following the 2021 campaign, he later confirmed that he wanted to stick around for at least another season. Ravens GM Eric DeCosta later admitted that he was trying to convince Campbell to re-sign with the Ravens, and it sounds like the organization ultimately got their way.

“It just felt like the right move,” Campbell told Anderson (via Twitter). “I feel like we started something special and we have unfinished business there.”

A former Cardinals second-round pick, Campbell has excelled for three different franchises. He already rewarded the Jaguars as a 30-something free agent, spearheading the team’s “Sacksonville” D-line to the Super Bowl precipice in 2017. After three Pro Bowl seasons in Jacksonville, Campbell landed in Baltimore via trade in 2020.

In his two seasons with Baltimore, Campbell has started 26 of his 27 games while collecting 5.5 sacks. The 35-year-old delivered another strong season in 2021, helping a Ravens team that had to play without Derek Wolfe‘s for the entire year. Campbell ultimately finished the season with 49 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 12 QB hits.

A six-time Pro Bowler, former All-Pro, Walter Payton Man of the Year winner, 2017 Defensive Player of the Year, and a member of the 2010s All-Decade Team, Campbell is also in search of his 100th career sack. He currently sits at 93.5, although he has transitioned more and more into a run-stopper than a pass rusher in recent years.

Ravens Hope To Re-Sign Calais Campbell

Deemed a retirement candidate late in his 14th season, Calais Campbell subsequently indicated he plans on playing in 2022. The Ravens hope the stalwart defensive lineman will be back in Baltimore.

Eric DeCosta has been in contact with Campbell, and although the Baltimore GM sounded less certain aging interior D-lineman will play again, he would sign off on a third Campbell season with the Ravens.

I don’t want to speak for Calais, but I asked Calais, I basically said, ‘Listen, if you want to play, I’d like you to let me know at some point because we thought you had a good year, you are a good player,’” DeCosta said, via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (subscription required) “I have a lot of admiration for Calais as a person and as a player and as a leader.

I’m hopeful that we can bring him back. We’d love to bring him back.”

Campbell, 35, delivered another strong season and was available in 15 games. That helped a Ravens team that did not have Derek Wolfe‘s services at all in 2021. Wolfe is coming off hip surgery, and the Ravens have D-linemen Brandon Williams on track for free agency. The Ravens re-signed Williams before he hit the market in 2017, but the higher-end interior defender turned 33 last week. Wolfe is signed, but he would be set for his age-32 season. Edge rusher Justin Houston, 33, is also a free agent. Defensive line is certainly a place where the Ravens could use younger regulars, but the team is thin at the interior and edge spots.

A former Cardinals second-round pick, Campbell has excelled for three franchises. He already rewarded the Jaguars as a 30-something free agent, spearheading the team’s “Sacksonville” D-line to the Super Bowl precipice in 2017. After three Pro Bowl seasons in Jacksonville, Campbell landed in Baltimore via trade. He and the Ravens agreed on a new deal following that swap, and Campbell made his sixth Pro Bowl in 2020.

Despite his age, Campbell (36 in September) stands to generate interest in his first free agency trip in five years. The All-Decade lineman and all-time kick blocker would be an interesting addition to a contender’s D-line. Holding just more than $8MM in cap space, the Ravens rank in the NFL’s bottom half here. The Ravens have exclusive negotiating rights with Campbell until March 14, when the legal tampering period opens.

Calais Campbell Returning In 2022

There had been a strong possibility that the 2021 season was the final chapter of Calais Campbell‘s career. Instead, he announced Sunday night that he will return next year, writes ESPN’s Jamison Hensley

The 35-year-old is a pending free agent, and he left the door open to retirement during the 2021 campaign. However, he wants to take at least one more shot at a Super Bowl title, the only accolade that has eluded him during his 14 seasons in the NFL.

“The feeling I have right now after seeing [the Rams] celebrate a world championship, I have a desire to go out there and play football and to compete”, he said. “So, I’m definitely not retiring. I’m coming back”.

A six-time Pro Bowler, former All-Pro, Walter Payton Man of the Year winner, 2017 Defensive Player of the Year and a member of the 2010s All-Decade Team, Campbell is also in search of his 100th career sack. He currently sits at 93.5, but has transitioned more and more into a run-stopper than a pass rusher in recent years.

Campbell’s first season in Baltimore was in 2020, where he earned a fourth consecutive Pro Bowl appearance. While his total tackles increased in 2021 to 49, his sack numbers dropped from four to 1.5. Still, his ability to defend the run that has been prevalent throughout his previous time with the Cardinals and Jaguars should garner him plenty of interest if he reaches the open market.

Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta has already been in discussion with Campbell regarding a new contract to stay in Baltimore. However, the defensive line – which has recently consisted of Campbell, along with fellow veterans Brandon Williams and Derek Wolfe – has been named as an area where the team will work to get younger at during the offseason. Perhaps, then, Campbell’s next, and quite possibly final, campaign in the NFL will be with a fourth team.

Ravens Notes: Lamar Jackson, Marquise Brown, Coaching Staff Changes

Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta held an end-of-season press conference on Friday. In it, he provided updates on a number of key points in the team’s upcoming offseason, including the current status of contract negotiations with quarterback Lamar Jackson

DeCosta made it clear that he is personally handling talks with Jackson, and has been from the beginning of the negotiation process. He added that the two of them have spoken “five or six times over the past year” (Twitter link via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic). According to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, DeCosta added “I’m proud of the relationship that we have” (Twitter link).

Jackson certainly didn’t have the season he or the Ravens were expecting. In 12 games, he recorded 2,882 passing yards and a near-even (16:13) touchdown-to-interception ratio. While he added another 767 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, he also had six fumbles. Between those numbers, and a season-ending ankle injury, 2021 was a far cry from Jackson’s 2019 MVP campaign. If anything, that could further complicate his contract talks, which were reportedly not proceeding as hoped earlier in the season. DeCosta stated: “We’re working at Lamar’s pace… We will operate based on his urgency” (Twitter link), suggesting the team is willing to let the 25-year-old play on his fifth year option.

Here are some other important notes from the presser, along with some updates to the team’s coaching staff:

  • DeCosta said he expects to pick up the fifth year option on wide receiver Marquise Brown (Twitter link via Hensley). A close friend of Jackson’s, Brown had his most productive season in 2021 (91 catches, 1,008 yards, six touchdowns), though he tailed off considerably late in the campaign.
  • The offensive line will be a priority in the offseason. As Zrebiec tweets, DeCosta stated a desire to strengthen the unit overall, though he is “optimistic” left tackle Ronnie Stanley will be able to return to full health after a second major ankle surgery.
  • Zreibec adds that the team is planning on getting younger along the defensive front. With that said, DeCosta has already been in communication with veteran Calais Campbell, who was thought to be contemplating retirement throughout the year.
  • Hensley tweets that cornerback Marcus Peters is expected to be back. He missed the entire season and his release would create $10MM in cap space, but the former All-Pro would provide a playmaking element to the secondary if healthy.
  • As for the coaching staff, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora tweets that inside linebackers coach Rob Ryan will not return. Hensley adds that outside LBs coach Drew Wilkins has also been let go, to pursue new opportunities alongside former DC Don Martindale.
  • According to Zrebiec, former Raven Zach Orr is a candidate to replace Ryan. After his promising career was abruptly ended due to a rare neck ailment, he’s taken to coaching. He spent 2021 on the Jaguars’ staff.


Retirement On Table For Calais Campbell

Calais Campbell has provided a considerable boost to the Ravens’ defense over the past two seasons, running his string of post-30 Pro Bowl nods to four last year. But he is unsigned beyond 2021 and plans to take some time during the 2022 offseason to examine his future.

The 14-year veteran is expected to “strongly” consider retirement at season’s end, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Campbell is still playing at an elite level, slotting as Pro Football Focus’ No. 4 overall interior defender, but he has logged extensive time in the pros.

While a Campbell retirement or free agency exit would leave a void on Baltimore’s defensive line, the former Cardinals and Jaguars standout is 35 and has played 222 career games — counting 14 playoff outings. That is fifth among defensive linemen in the 21st century. Given his role as a 3-4 defensive end, the ex-Miami Hurricane does not fit the profile of a player who could tack additional years onto his career as a situational edge rusher.

Campbell missed time last season because of a calf strain and a positive COVID-19 test. The six-time Pro Bowler, however, has not missed a game this year to help a Baltimore defense that will not have Derek Wolfe‘s services throughout the season. Campbell’s most recent blocked field goal kept a Ravens comeback win over the Colts in play last month. He certainly stands to play a key role in the Ravens’ latest push for the AFC North title.

Campbell has not been a free agent since signing a big-ticket deal with the Jaguars in 2017. That agreement played a major role in Jacksonville making a surprise run to that year’s AFC championship game. Despite not being honored as a Pro Bowler in his first six seasons, the 6-foot-8 defender has been named to the NFL’s all-star game in six of the past seven seasons. Campbell considering stepping away from the game would be a key offseason storyline.

COVID-19 Latest: Ravens, Tuitt, Colts

Multiple standout defensive linemen will be back in action in Week 13, and although the Ravens still have several players on their reserve/COVID-19 list, their roster is no longer as depleted as it was Wednesday.

  • Baltimore’s coronavirus list still houses 10 players, including Lamar Jackson, but the team will have multiple starters back at practice soon. The Ravens activated Calais Campbell, Mark Ingram and defensive lineman Jihad Ward from their virus list. Ingram was eligible to play against the Steelers on Wednesday, but the Ravens held him out. A five-time Pro Bowler, Campbell has not played since Nov. 8 due to a calf strain.
  • The 11-0 Steelers will have Stephon Tuitt back in action when they face Washington on Monday. They activated the seventh-year starter from their reserve/COVID list. Three Steelers remain on the virus list, including starters James Conner and Maurkice Pouncey.
  • Pricey trade acquisition DeForest Buckner came off the Colts‘ virus list as well. Buckner landed on Indianapolis’ COVID list after testing positive for the virus in late November. The Colts, who allowed the Titans to rush for 229 yards in Buckner’s absence last week, also removed Jonathan Taylor from their virus list.
  • The Ravens announced Saturday that four strains of the coronavirus were present in their building. While the team believes it contained three of those strains, the fourth ended up spreading to the point it forced the NFL to postpone the team’s Steelers rematch three times. Ten straight days commenced with at least one Raven testing positive for the virus, and the team had as many as 23 players on its reserve/COVID list at the height of the outbreak. Four straight days, however, have passed without a Ravens positive test.