Throughout the offseason, we’ll be profiling players who may end up in Denver when all is said and done with NFL Free Agency. The Broncos clearly have plenty of holes to fill before they get back to Super-Bowl form and we’ll be examining a long list of players they may choose to help the franchise do just that.
Not only is Calais Campbell one of the biggest defensive lineman in the league—6-foot-8, 300 pounds—he’s one of the best. The former second-round pick, and current Arizona Cardinal, is set to enter free agency on March 9.
Second on Arizona’s all-time sack list with 56.5, Campbell has no problem getting to the quarterback or stuffing the run. For teams with a need on the defensive line, specifically at defensive end in a 3-4 scheme, Campbell is the near perfect player. Conveniently, one of the Denver Broncos’ biggest needs is along their 3-4 defensive line.
Oh, he was also born and raised in Denver.
The 30-year old veteran fills this category very well. Along with being a great pass rusher—which is even more impressive as a 3-4 defensive end—Campbell is excellent against the run—ranking as the sixth best run defender for his position by Pro Football Focus.
When Campbell doesn’t get to the quarterback, he uses his incredibly long body to bat down passes. In 2016 Campbell ranked as the second best interior defender by Pro Football Focus, only falling short to the Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald.
Along with all of this, the two-time Pro Bowler (2014 and 2015) is very consistent both in his play and his durability. Campbell holds the Cardinals’ franchise record for the most seasons with six-plus sacks at seven. Additionally, the nine-year vet played in 77 percent of the Cardinals defensive snaps, the most on Arizona’s defensive line.
As the best 3-4 DE in this free agency class, Campbell doesn’t have many weaknesses. The only noteworthy downside with Campbell is the price tag he can command on the open market.
From Ndamukong Suh’s $19.1 million per year average to Muhammad Wilkerson’s $18 million average, Campbell could be in for a big pay day—north of the $11 million per year he averaged in his last contract with the Cardinals. At 30-years old, Campbell still has a few years left in his prime, but his age could drop his price tag a few million dollars.
How he fits in Denver
If Denver breaks the bank for Campbell, he would be the perfect fit. In terms of productivity the past few years, Campbell would be an upgraded version of Malik Jackson opposite Derek Wolfe.
Not only would he be a significant boost to an already dangerous pass rush, he would provide the stout run defense on the defensive line that Denver greatly missed with the departure of Jackson last offseason. With just one move, the Broncos would nearly shore up the fifth-worst run defense in the NFL.
The question of whether Campbell returns to his home state may be whether he is willing to take a reasonable contract.