What About Calais Campbell as a Late Spring Bears Free Agent Fit?

calais campbell bears possible target
calais campbell bears possible target

In his latest Q&A installment, the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs fields a question about Calais Campbell as a possible player who could interest the Chicago Bears as a free agent. And while I hadn’t considered Campbell to be a Bears target, it makes sense. Frankly, I wish I had thought of it before.

This is what Biggs had to say in response to the question about Campbell:

It will be interesting to see what happens with Campbell, who turns 38 on Sept. 1 and has been a high-level performer for 16 seasons, tying for the Atlanta Falcons team lead last season with 6½ sacks. It remains to be seen if Campbell indeed wants to suit up for a 17th season. Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot said earlier in the offseason that “we’ll never close any doors” about possibly re-signing Campbell, who played for a base salary of $7 million last season plus incentives.

Campbell is a defensive end, and I think some have confused the 6-foot-8, 282-pounder as an interior lineman. He’s a completely different type of player than Yannick Ngakoue, the free agent the Bears signed to a one-year, $10 million deal last summer after training camp opened.

OK, so Biggs doesn’t make a direct connection to Campbell as someone the Bears are currently targeting. But at a minimum, Biggs gives us something to chew on as we explore fits that Bears General Manager Ryan Poles could kick the tires on in an attempt to round out the roster before Week 1 of the regular season.

calais campbell bears possible target
Sep 10, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Calais Campbell (93) celebrates after a victory against the Carolina Panthers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Who is Calais Campbell and what could he bring to the table?

If you’re unfamiliar with Calais Campbell, just know his résumé is legit.

The University of Miami product has six Pro Bowls, one first-team All-Pro nod, and a PFWA Defensive Player of the Year award from 2017. It’s been a decorated career for Calais Campbell, which has seen him play 244 games while making stops with the Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Atlanta Falcons. The production has been there every step of the way. Campbell has 105.5 sacks, 175 tackles-for-loss, and 153 quarterback hits under his belt. Off the field, Campbell has taken home the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award (2019) and Alan Page Community Award (2023).

I don’t want to spent the entirety of this post rattling off Campbell’s achievements, but I do want to underscore how much I like that his profile has on-the-field production *AND* off-the-field accomplishments. That is the kind of thing that makes folks go yeah, I’d be down to see my favorite team sign that guy. But is there a Bears fit?

In baseball, there is no such thing as having too much pitching. The football version of that is there being no such thing as having too many able-bodied defensive linemen. And while I think DeMarcus Walker and Austin Booker could be a respectable 1-2 punch playing opposite of Montez Sweat, Calais Campbell is the type of player whose game is on another level.

Sure, Campbell will turn 38 in September. There are risks that in signing a player with that much mileage at this stage of his career. And expecting the All-Pro version of Campbell would be a mistake. But Campbell has put up 12 sacks, 14 tackles-for-loss, and 31 quarterback hits in 31 games over the last two seasons. And if you could pencil in 6-7 sacks, 7-8 tackles-for-loss, and 16-17 quarterback hits into the Bears lineup next year, you’d do it. Right?

I imagine some of you who are nodding your head would also add “if the price is right” to your co-sign. If the Bears can lure Calais Campbell to Chicago on a similar price tag to what he was paid last year ($7 million base salary + incentives), then it would feel like a no-brainer — especially since OverTheCap.com still has the Bears as being $22.705 million under the cap. Of course, it takes two to tango and there would have to be mutual interest in order for this to get off the ground. Even still … the idea of adding Campbell to the Bears defensive line makes sense.

For what it’s worth, the Bears got a good look at Campbell in Week 17 when the Falcons came to town. Atlanta took the loss, but Campbell came up with two solo tackles, a tackle-for-loss, and a quarterback hit in the game. Whenever a team gets a look at a free agent in the season before he hits the market, I often find myself wondering if that is taken into consideration when pursuing (or not pursuing) a player.

If all else fails, Yannick Ngakoue is “ready to rush” and running it back with him isn’t the worst idea that has come across my desk.

https://twitter.com/YannickNgakoue/status/1793011831943946481

written by

Luis C. Medina, who you can find on Twitter at lcm1986, has been covering the Chicago Bears at Bleacher Nation since 2017. Since then, he has written about 3 head coaches, 5 play-callers, and 11 starting quarterbacks. Previously, Luis wrote about the Cubs and MLB at BN (2015-16) and worked in the Chicago Tribune sports department (2011-16). He also co-hosted a Cubs postgame show, Outside the Ivy, in 2019.

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