In the aftermath of Super Bowl LVI, Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Calais Campbell put to rest any speculation that he will retire, but it remains to be seen whether he'll be back in 2022 as a Raven, or in a different uniform.
"Oh yeah, I'm not retiring," Campbell told Sky Sports, via the Ravens' team web site, after the Los Angeles Rams' 23-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. "I watched this game. The feeling I have right now after seeing them celebrate a Super Bowl championship, I have a desire to go out there and play football and to compete. So I'm definitely not retiring; I'm coming back."
Campbell is set to be an unrestricted free agent this spring, but the Ravens would figure to have interest in bringing back a player who continued to be productive despite his age (35), and is a consummate leader. Campbell made 49 tackles with 1.5 sacks and 12 QB hits last year in 14 starts. The 14-year veteran and six-time Pro Bowler is considered a strong locker-room presence, and his decision to play on gives Baltimore at least a chance to retain him.
Campbell needs only 6.5 sacks to reach 100 for his career, a benchmark cleared by only 39 players in NFL history. That's a lofty goal within reach, but Campbell himself brought on the idea that 2021 might be his last NFL season when he touched on the retirement topic last summer.
"That's something I'm still figuring out, I guess," Campbell said in June. "I kind of take it one year at a time. I know that I've got this year in me for sure. I'm going to give what I have this year, and then we'll reevaluate once the season ends."
At 6-foot-8 and 300 pounds, Campbell is no longer a dominant pass rusher, but he can still shrink the pocket, and remains a stalwart against the run. Pro Football Focus ranked him the No. 8 defensive tackle in the NFL last season, and he drew the highest PFF grade of any Baltimore defender. Campbell believes he's got at least one more year left in him, and Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta sounds like he'd like Campbell to stick around if a deal can be struck.
"I really admire Calais as a leader [and] as a player," DeCosta said, per the Ravens website. "He still plays at a high level and has a great attitude. He's great for the younger guys."
Baltimore has a lengthy list of free agents to consider retaining along with Campbell, including center Bradley Bozeman, linebacker Josh Bynes and cornerback Anthony Averett. The club currently has a limited amount of cap space with which to bring back veterans, but for the right price, Campbell would be a strong fit for return.