Ravens defensive lineman Calais Campbell said Sunday that he’ll return for his 16th NFL season.
Campbell, a veteran leader who’s under contract through 2023 in Baltimore, said after this past season ended in January that he would take “a few weeks” to decide whether he would retire, but acknowledged that it would be “hard to walk away, for sure.”
During an appearance Sunday on the NFL Network, Campbell confirmed his intentions to play another year. “I’m coming back, baby,” he said.
Campbell, 36, has played in 41 games over three seasons for the Ravens. He had 5 1/2 sacks and 34 quarterback pressures in 14 games last season for the Ravens, grading out as the NFL’s 16th-best interior defensive lineman, according to Pro Football Focus. He played 50.3% of the Ravens’ defensive snaps in 2022, eighth most on the team and second most among defensive linemen, behind only Justin Madubuike.
Campbell also said Sunday on the NFL Network that quarterback Lamar Jackson, a pending free agent who’s expected to be designated with the franchise tag in coming weeks, “needs to stay in Baltimore.” But the Ravens would face a salary cap crunch if Jackson signs the exclusive tag, worth a projected $45 million, forcing difficult financial decisions elsewhere with players like Campbell.
Campbell has a cap hit of $9.4 million in 2023, the fifth highest among Ravens currently under contract. To lower that hit, the Ravens and Campbell could agree to a restructured contract. They could also trade or release Campbell, whose contract would then count $2.4 million against the cap.
If Campbell does return to Baltimore, the Ravens would again have one of the NFL’s best defensive lines, led by Campbell, Madubuike and Michael Pierce, who missed most of the past season with a torn biceps, and bolstered by Broderick Washington and Travis Jones. The Ravens finished the 2022 season with the NFL’s No. 7 rush defense, according to Football Outsiders’ efficiency metrics.
Campbell’s also a sack away from 100 career takedowns, a milestone number he’s long coveted.
“I had plenty of opportunities to get it this year and didn’t get it done,” Campbell said last month. “So sometimes it’s like, ‘Well, man, it wasn’t that important to you because you didn’t get it done.’ I had the guy in my arms a couple times, and just missed him. So I guess it’s not the top of the list, but it’s something I really want. At the end of the day, what’s meant to be will be. So, I definitely felt like I left some plays out there though this year, and that kind of hurt a little bit, but that’s football.”