Calais Campbell: A Good Bowl of Soup

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On March 19th, Calais Campbell was traded to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for a fifth-round selection in the 2020 draft. Hours later, Campbell and the Ravens agreed to a contract extension. Campbell will turn 34 at the beginning of September.


Campbell was one of 10 defensive players to earn a 90.0 or better PFF grade in 2019 (among players that played 300 snaps). He was second among EDGEs, only trailing TJ Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers. At 6-foot-8 and 300 pounds, Campbell stands out as a man amongst boys. He is one of the strongest players in the NFL, and he routinely turns tackles and interior linemen into sacks of potatoes. In 2019, Campbell ranked sixth among defensive tackles in ESPN’s pass rush win rate. The sack numbers were down in 2019, Campbell made a habit of disrupting backfields.


Campbell is a force on the defensive line. While his age has sapped some of his athleticism, he competes relentlessly.

Campbell did not get a sack, tackle for loss, or even a tackle on this play, but he forced two Chiefs to block him. An unselfish Campbell means easy plays for his fellow linemen.

He has lost a step since this clip, but his ability to shred offensive lines seems to be eternal.

Even at age-34, Campbell should be able to consistently disrupt games from the interior. At the very least, he will make the life of Brandon Williams easier.


Calais Campbell was terrific across the defensive line with the Jaguars. He took significant snaps at six different places on the line, performing admirably in each role. Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale will have a slew of options when he deploys Campbell. Campbell played about 200 snaps on the interior of the defensive line where he could replace the departed Michael Pierce. He lined up on the edge about 600 times with a fairly even spread between the left side and right side as well as inside or outside the tackle. With Campbell’s Swiss army knife abilities on the defensive line, the Ravens may not have to blitz 55 percent of the time, and the run defense should improve.


Calais Campbell has played with two teams in his NFL career. He was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals with the 50th pick in the 2008 draft. After nine seasons in the desert, Campbell packed his bags for Jacksonville. Spending 2008 in a supplementary role, Campbell burst out with a seven-sack and eight-tackle for loss season. In 2010, Campbell posted the first of 10 consecutive seasons with 10 tackles for loss. His sack numbers fluctuated between five and nine, but he posted at least 13 tackles for loss in seven of his final eight seasons in Arizona. In Jacksonville, Campbell had 44 tackles for loss in three seasons including a mammoth 20 in 2018, the 29th most in NFL history. 


In his 12 seasons, Campbell has missed six of 204 games (including playoffs). He has played all 16 games of a season nine games, and he suited up for all 51 games as a Jaguar. Campbell has 10 straight seasons with 50 or more tackles. In terms of disrupting the backfield, Campbell has 10 straight seasons with double-digit tackles for loss. Sack numbers can be random, but Campbell has registered 20 quarterback hits in each of the last five seasons. He has also shown a knack for getting his hands on the football with 48 pass deflections and 14 forced fumbles.


While unlikely to make the Hall of Fame without a dominant stretch in Baltimore, Campbell has scratched his name among some of the best to ever play. Only Terrell Suggs and J.J. Watt have more tackles for loss among active players. Campbell ranks sixth all-time with his 151 career tackles for loss. 88 sacks lands Campbell at ninth in the active ranks and 54th all-time. With two decently productive seasons in Baltimore, Campbell could become the 35th player to the 100-sack mark. Campbell is the second-most valuable active defensive player according to Pro-Football-Reference’s approximate value metric.

Great Humanitarian

In 2019, Calais Campbell was honored with the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. The award is given out in honor of a player’s work on and off the field. Campbell runs the Charles Richard Campbell Foundation, raising money to teach life skills to America’s youth. He aims to get children on paths toward success. In 2019, he pledged up to $80,000 to four Jacksonville charities based on his play and Jacksonville’s play. Baltimore is getting a player with tremendous character.


In 12 NFL seasons, Campbell has been selected to the Pro Bowl five times. He made it twice with the Cardinals (2014 and 2015) and in all three seasons with the Jaguars. In 2017, Campbell made the AP All-Pro team as a defensive end and defensive tackle. He was named to the first team as a defensive end and to the second team as a defensive tackle. Cambell has nine total All-Pro designations across his career. PFF noted him as a second-team defensive end in 2011, 2017, and 2019. Pro Football Writers included him as a first-team defensive end in 2017. As a defensive tackle in 2016, Campbell made the AP second-team and PFF first-team.

Offensive Line Wrecker

Campbell has 16 career games with multiple sacks. His lone 2019 game with multiple sacks came against the Titans on Thursday Night Football: Campbell’s third career three-sack game. He won AFC Defensive Player of the Week for that stellar outing. In 2017, he posted four games with multiple sacks including a mammoth four in Houston to open the season. Campbell ended the 2017 season with 14.5 sacks, the second-most in the NFL. Campbell’s days as an elite pass rusher might be behind him, but he should be able to rev the motor up for a big multi-sack game at some point with Baltimore.


According to ProFootballTalk, Campbell took less money to join a contender in Baltimore. Campbell said “there’s not too many teams better” in an article on The Athletic. With a pair of long playoff runs under his belt in trips to Super Bowl 43 and the 2017 AFC Championship Game, Calais Campbell will be looking to add a ring to his finger with Baltimore. He will also be looking for his first career playoff sack. 

Re-read the first letter of every header for a surprise in the form of a Campbell’s Soup catchphrase.

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Ryan Potts is an avid football and baseball fan. He covers the NFL and Major League Baseball, focusing on the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Braves.