The impact of Calais Campbell on the Jaguars roster and organization cannot be measured during this holiday season.
I am not one to really believe in hero worship for athletes, but I might have reached that stage with Calais Campbell of the Jacksonville Jaguars. As the big man plays in his third season in Black and Teal and continues to move at a pace that is still dominant for a man 33 years old, fans should be reminded of how great he has been for the locker room and the organization.
And unfortunately, his time in a Jaguars uniform may be running out. There is no word yet on whether the 12-year veteran will be back in 2020 as the entire team was placed on notice yesterday by Executive Vice President of Football Operations, Tom Coughlin, but not having No. 93 as part of the organization will look completely different if that were to happen.
Campbell is owed a base salary of $15 million next season, which may be more than the front office is willing to spend. Again, with the potentially sweeping changes of the organization that might take place after this year, what happens over the course of the offseason is anyone’s guess.
Campbell came into Jacksonville all smiles and handshakes, walking onto the practice field and immediately earning the respect of his teammates for his effort and his conviction to football. It’s something the franchise had not had in some time and while he is an imposing figure on the field at 6’8” and 300 pounds, that baritone voice of his and enthusiasm is contagious.
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This season, with the addition of rookie Josh Allen to the mix of the Jaguars pass rush, Campbell as played most of his time on the field inside at defensive tackle, which earned him praise at the mid-point of the season as being named by NFL.com as one of the best at his position. Besides the praise from the media, both Allen and Yannick Ngakoue has spoken several times over how they have become better football players because of his advice and better men because of his guidance in how to be a professional.
When Nick Foles met with the media in March after being introduced to the organization, one of the first things he said he did after deciding to come to Jacksonville was talk to Campbell. The two veterans spoke about how they wanted to erase the 2018 and start fresh and create a new culture in Jacksonville. We know Foles’ season has not gone according to plan. We know the team’s record has not been what the organization hoped for. Campbell’s production, despite only 5.5 sacks this season, has still continued to help a struggling defense.
Campbell was once again vocal after the team’s 42-20 loss to Tennessee, which was the third game in a row the Jaguars have surrendered to an AFC South opponent. He said despite how it hurts to lose games in the division, this is a team that must move forward.
"“We can’t take back these losses, they happened. It sucks because they are division games. We’ve had our opportunities to put ourselves in position to have a chance at the big dance, but we lost them. We have to put them behind us and move on to be the best we can be,” he said."
That’s the definition of a leader. No matter how this season (and last year) has been, Campbell is there continuing to push forward. It’s the mentality the Jaguars need to take over the next five weeks. It’s the reason players put on the pads and helmet each week.
The Jaguars organization should be thankful for Campbell. In a short body of work, he has become the symbol of team dedication. And for that, he will remain one of the best free-agent signings in team history. Where he ranks is up for debate. But looking at what he has done to make an impact on the field and with this team, I’d say it’s not too far from the top of the list.