Denver columnist: Broncos should make a run at Calais Campbell
Could Calais Campbell be heading home?
The long-time Cardinal who is set to become an unrestricted free agent has expressed a strong desire to continue his career in Arizona, but if he doesn’t, a good fit for the defensive lineman could be the Denver Broncos.
Campbell, who was born in Denver, is the player Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla says the Broncos should target if they part with star DeMarcus Ware.
Campbell is the pride of South High School. He stands 6-foot-8 and weighs 300 pounds, but it’s his smile and heart that make the biggest impression. With back-to-back Pro Bowl appearances in 2014 and 2015, Campbell has the credentials to fill the gap missing in the Denver defense when Malik Jackson took the money and ran to Jacksonville a year ago. Although Campbell celebrates his 31st birthday on Sept. 1, the big man still has big game.
Campbell’s fit with the Broncos — or really any team, for that matter — is fairly obvious. He finished 2016 with eight sacks as well as a team-leading 27 QB hits and 26 QB pressures. He also notched one interception, seven passes defensed, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
The 2008 second-round pick is coming off a five-year contract that ended up being worth $55 million, and though at times over the last couple seasons he seemed to draw the ire of head coach Bruce Arians, for the most part, he was worth every penny.
Campbell made his first two Pro Bowls in 2014 and 2015, and this past season extended his franchise record for seasons with at least six sacks by a defensive lineman to seven as well as moved into second on the franchise’s all-time sacks list at 56.5.
Whether Campbell is to continue his career as a Cardinal or depart for the Broncos (or any other team) remains to be seen. He has been listed as one of the top 10 free agents on the market by ESPN’s John Clayton as well as NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal, and in 2016 posted the best season among anyone in the Cardinals’ defensive front seven, according to ProFootballFocus.
Kiszla understands that a player like Campbell will not come cheap.
It’s always about the money in the NFL, and if the largest mountain of cash conceivable is what Campbell wants most from what figures to be his last big contract, then he will have to go play somewhere other than Denver. But could Campbell be lured by the appeal of playing alongside superstar Von Miller, the chance to come home to Colorado and the opportunity to scratch an itch left unscratched when the Cardinals lost to Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLIII? Campbell and Derek Wolfe on the same defensive line might look pretty, pretty good.
If the Cardinals don’t want him back, he will have no shortage of suitors. But for what it’s worth, back in December, Campbell said it’s more about leaving a legacy than making money for him.
He also said he would love to be a Cardinal his entire career.
“That’s the ultimate goal,” he said. “But I understand the business side of things, so whatever happens, I’m going to make sure that I’m enjoying it and living it up as long as I can.”