John Harbaugh is hopeful the Baltimore Ravens can still secure the return of a key free agent. A veteran who is still one of the most effective and disruptive defensive linemen in the NFL.
Calais Campbell is 35, but the Ravens want him back. Harbaugh provided an update on the chances of the 13-year pro suiting up for a third season in Baltimore.
Harbaugh spoke at the annual owners meeting on Monday, March 28. He revealed the state of play between Campbell and the Ravens, including the steps general manager Eric DeCosta is taking to re-sign the six-time Pro Bowler.
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Talks Ongoing with Campbell
Lines of communication are open between DeCosta and Campbell, according to Harbaugh. The head coach also expressed his own desire for the two sides to reach an equitable agreement, per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley:
That a return to the Ravens is still on the table for Campbell is good news for Harbaugh. The former remains a vital part of what the Ravens can do up front defensively.
It seemed like the franchise would have to do without one of its natural leaders in 2022 when Campbell was said to be contemplating retirement after last season. The player himself confirmed he’s not done yet during an appearance on Sky Sports for the UK network’s broadcast of Super Bowl LVI.
Campbell’s willingness to prolong his playing career is a boost for whichever team acquires the versatile defensive end this year. Although he registered just 1.5 sacks and 21 solo tackles last season, Campbell’s value to the Ravens goes beyond numbers.
Campbell Remains Central to Ravens’ Defense
The Ravens still need Campbell because he continues to be a linchpin against the run. It’s no coincidence Baltimore allowed the fewest rushing yards, 1,436, in the league when Campbell started all but two games last season.
While he’s not the pass-rusher he once was, Campbell still creates movement in the trenches when the ball is kept on the ground. That’s what he did on this play from Week 6 against the Los Angeles Chargers, highlighted by Big Blue View podcast host Nick Falato:
The Ravens still need defensive linemen who can stuff runs at their source like Campbell did against the Chargers. Aside from Campbell, nose tackle Brandon Williams is also still on the market.
Williams was a force against the run, just like fellow 0-technique Justin Ellis, who followed former Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale to the New York Giants, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
The Ravens did replace Ellis and potentially Williams by bringing back Michael Pierce. It might not be so straightforward to re-up Campbell, who is attracting interest from another former team, according to Arizona Cardinals beat reporter Johnny Venerable:
Bringing Campbell back into the fold for at least another year would have obvious benefits for the Ravens. Especially in the AFC North where running backs as good as Nick Chubb, Najee Harris and Joe Mixon ply their trade.
Yet, while Campbell can still be an asset, the Ravens won’t want to miss the opportunity to freshen their ranks and get younger up front this offseason. Prospects like Georgia nose tackle Jordan Davis, his Bulldogs’ teammate Devonte Wyatt and Purdue’s George Karlaftis should all still be on the board by the time the Ravens pick 14th overall.