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Calais Campbell sees 'really good opportunity' to win Super Bowl with Dolphins

Calais Campbell said he had two good reasons to run it back for a 17th NFL season.

First, Campbell thinks his new team can win a Super Bowl. Second, Campbell still believes he can play at a high level.

Campbell signed with the Miami Dolphins last week, putting off the idea of retirement another year. He told local media on Tuesday that he believes that joining the Dolphins offered him a terrific chance to win his first Super Bowl title.

"I mean, that's a big reason why I signed here because I feel like there's a really good opportunity here," Campbell said. "Very talented team all over the field, both offense and defense. When you go through the roster, you see so many people that I feel like if we can play together and really build that team chemistry you need, we'll be a force to be reckoned with.

"... I think that this defense is gonna be a top, very top ... I don't want to go too crazy, but it's going to be a really good defense."

Another big selling point was new defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver. Campbell and Weaver spent the 2021 and 2022 seasons together with the Baltimore Ravens, with Campbell combining for 47 tackles (nine for losses), seven sacks and two fumble recoveries in 29 games (28 starts) over the two campaigns.

Campbell called Weaver a "huge, huge" factor in his decision to sign with Miami "because I definitely had quite a few teams interested" in his services.

"I feel like the main reason why I wanted to come here was because I really believe in who Anthony Weaver is as a coach and our relationship," Campbell said. "We talked a lot during the process. He knows what I'm capable of doing. He understands my mind and how I see the game and he trusts me."

But even with all the offseason attention Campbell received following his 17-start, 6.5-sack, 17-QB hit season in 2023, he did consider walking away this offseason, asking himself whether he was prepared for the physical grind that lies ahead. After all, Campbell turns 38 years old on Sept. 1 -- and you simply don't see defensive linemen that age suit up most NFL seasons.

"I thought about (retirement)," Campbell said. "I don't think I thought about it for very long. The last maybe three, four years, I go through the season with everything I have and try to empty the tank, so that if I want to retire at the end of the year, I feel like I can go out and I feel like I gave football everything I had.

"Once the season was over, I felt pretty healthy. Everything was feeling too good. It's just like, man, you're playing football at a high level still. Why not do it one more time?"

A six-time Pro Bowler and the 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year, Campbell has enjoyed a fantastic career. He's racked up 105.5 sacks and is tied for second all time with three career safeties.

But there's one big box he hasn't checked off: that elusive Super Bowl victory. He reached the game as a rookie with the Arizona Cardinals in 2008 and was able to play in two conference championship games thereafter. He's hoping this latest opportunity will be his best.

"There is also that level of I haven't had a chance to play in that big game since my rookie year, and coming to a team like this, I feel like there's an opportunity there," Campbell said. "Obviously, everybody feels like they have an opportunity to hoist a Lombardi Trophy right now; all 32 teams are competing with the mindset that they can be the team. It's hard, right?

"I've been playing for a long time, and I felt like I had some teams that were worthy of it, and we didn't get there. We didn't get it done. It has to be more than that, but that's a big part of it, believing that this team has a chance, and I believe that I can help, given who I am today. I can bring a lot of value."

Even with that, Campbell said he wouldn't have plunged into another season if his desire to continue playing didn't still burn hot within him.

"But what keeps me going though is a love for the game. Love for the game is No. 1," he said. "I really am just like a true fan that's lucky enough to play.

"I talk to guys that are younger. They're like, 'Man, why are you still doing this?' 'Cause I love it and I'm still good at it. I don't want to suck at it though. That's for sure. If I ever feel like my play is dropping, I can't be that guy and I can't still deliver in big moments, then it'd be time to hang it up."

That time is not yet here.

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