At 35, Calais Campbell can still do his job. He just couldn’t do it much longer.
Campbell has been keeping an eye out since 2022. As for what’s around the corner, he’ll know when he gets there.
“Right now I’m at the point where I’m just taking it this year. I know this year is in me,” Campbell said on Friday during a speech at Inside training camp live. “I don’t know if there’s anything left after this, but I’m going to leave it all on the field, empty the tank, and when it’s all said and done, after this year, I’ll get together again in the offseason to see where I am. But now I’m preparing like it’s my last year. So I’m going to give him everything I have.”
After recording four sacks in every season from 2009 to 2020, the three-time All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowler hit just 1.5 last season. For the first time since 2013, he failed to win a Pro Bowl or All-Pro honor. And all this would have been an amazing event if he had not yet turned 35 years old.
He has good reason to return in 2022: Baltimore is welcoming the return of a number of key defensive players and is poised for a major breakthrough after a playoff failure in 2021. Campbell and the rest of the Ravens need revenge.
“Well, we have a lot of pieces… We have a lot of playmakers,” said Campbell. “It’s a deep, deep lineup all over the field. The boys take turns playing. But it really starts with Lamar (Jackson) and then down the line I feel like our DBs, our D-lines. This is a special D-line. … We have a good mix of veterans who know how to play football and win, as well as young guys who are itching to prove themselves and just trying to prove themselves. Just a good balance of quality, quality players all over the field.”
Campbell is currently in the first year of a two-year contract signed in April to stay in Baltimore and will turn 36 in September. He’s earned the right to focus solely on one season – emptying the tank, he said – before thinking about whether he’ll be back in a year.
After all, as they say, play every piece as if it were your last. Campbell will apply this approach by 2022.