Cardinals’ Calais Campbell at crossroads in career

Apr 21, 2016, 3:30 PM | Updated: 8:30 pm
Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell (93) warms up prior to an NFL football game against...
Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell (93) warms up prior to an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Calais Campbell has so much on his agenda that you’d expect him to be a basket case.

He is entering the last year of a five-year contract extension worth $55 million, and his salary cap number this season is $15.25 million (including a $9.5 million salary). That’s the Cardinals’ third-highest number behind quarterback Carson Palmer ($17.88 million) and receiver Larry Fitzgerald ($15.85 million), so the team may look to lower the big defensive end’s cap number by signing him to an extension.

Campbell, who turns 30 on Sept. 1, recently hired a new agent (Tom Condon) after the NFL Players Association suspended and fined his former agent, Ben Dogra, in January.

Campbell has made the Pro Bowl the last two seasons, but coach Bruce Arians has higher standards for him, and with the addition of Chandler Jones this offseason, much is expected of Campbell.

“I don’t worry about that at all,” Campbell said Monday. “I just put the work in and make sure that I am prepared to lead this team.”

Given Campbell’s consistent, big-picture perspective and his easy-going personality, you believe it when he says the potential contract talks are not a distraction and that Arians’ tough love is welcome.

“You want a coach that’s going to push you and get the best out of you,” he said. “I know he wants what’s best for me so it’s my job just to go out there and respond. We have a great relationship. I love B.A. as a coach and as a person.

“The biggest thing is trying to dominate games every single game. Every time I step on the field I want to be the most dominant player on the field. I’ve just got to put that work in to make sure I’m physically fit and mentally where I need to be.”

Having Jones around should help Campbell reach his peak performance.

“Just having them side by side like it was with Dwight (Freeney) will be huge,” Arians said. “When Dwight was over there, Calais got free a lot because there was nobody sitting inside waiting for him in a double team.”

Campbell had 61 combined tackles (46 solos) and just five sacks last season, but he played inside more than he has in the past. Jones believes he and Campbell will have a positive impact on each other’s numbers and overall effectiveness.

“Calais is a guy that seeks a lot of attention from an offense and gets double-teamed a lot,” Jones said. “It takes pressure off of me and it takes pressure off of him when two guys get potentially doubled-teamed on one defense.

“When you have an offensive coordinator or an offensive line focusing in on one person, that frees up the other guy and allows him to make plays.”

Campbell said Monday there is no news to report on contract talks, but he echoed Jones’ thoughts about the havoc the pair could wreak on offenses.

“Chandler has been here working out for the last few weeks so we got a chance to bond and get to know each other,” he said. “Chandler’s such a great guy. He’s a champion and he knows what it takes to win so I’ve been picking his brain on that mentality.

“He’s going to impact me a lot. Football’s a team game and you need 11 guys to go out there and lay it on the line. The better the guys are around you… guys who are long and can rush the passer like he can rush; we’re going to be able to do many more things together.”

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