The Buccaneers seem ready to be aggressive in free agency this year. Veteran defensive tackle Calais Campbell is the latest name to be attached to the team.
The Buccaneers aren’t standing pat with their defensive line this off-season. We heard Jason Licht emphasize last week the need for more pass rush, and now it’s being reported by CBS’s Jason La Canfora that the Bucs are interested in all-pro defensive lineman Calais Campbell.
"And the Buccaneers are inclined to keep pushing to get in the postseason. Cardinals defensive lineman Calais Campbell and Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson are just two of the players they are interested in."
We’ve seen DeSean Jackson’s name attached to the Bucs several times already, but to my knowledge this is the first time Campbell has been tied to the team. Their interest in Campbell makes a lot of sense. William Gholston and Akeem Spence are both free agents, and neither were particularly good last year either to begin with when it came to getting after the quarterback. The Bucs defensive line while talented needs one more elite player to put it over the top, and Campbell could be that guy.
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Campbell is the rare veteran who appears to be getting better as he ages. At 30 years old, the 6’8″ 300 lb behemoth that is Calais Campbell registered eight sacks for the Cardinals last season, one short of his career high. He otherwise totaled 53 combined tackles, twelve tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, six passes defensed and an interception. Much like Robert Ayers last off-season, Campbell has added value in his ability to play all over the defensive line. For the Bucs he would probably see most of his action at nose tackle, but he could fluidly slide to three technique or defensive end. Slotted next to Gerald McCoy the Buccaneers would suddenly have the most formidable interior defensive line in football.
An added factor to consider is Buccaneer general manager Jason Licht’s time in Arizona. Licht was hired as a personnel executive in 2008 when Campbell was drafted and returned to the Cardinals in 2012, so presumably Campbell and he have some form of existing relationship. We’ll have to wait till Wednesday to see if this pays off, but also according to La Canfora most of the big free agents will be signed within the first few hours of the day.
How much Calais Campbell will cost is still up in the air, but the top defensive tackles in the NFL currently make in the range of 13 to 19 million dollars annually, so expect it to be somewhere in that spectrum.