Calais Campbell is joining the Ravens with high expectations and no reservations.
It mattered greatly to Campbell that he was wanted by the Ravens, a team with realistic Super Bowl aspirations. Coming off a 6-10 season with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the veteran defensive end is thrilled with the trade that brought him to Baltimore in exchange for a fifth-round pick, and he agreed to a one-year contract extension through 2021.
Campbell said four or five other teams were interested, and he could have gotten more money elsewhere. But after 12 seasons in the NFL and no Super Bowl rings, money is not the bottom line for Campbell.
"My main goal is winning," Campbell said during a conference call with Baltimore-area media. "I was more confident in going to Baltimore even if I had to take less. There are not too many teams better."
Campbell is one of the NFL's most respected players, and the most recent winner of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. His presence would be an asset to any team, but during his conference call, the 34-year-old Campbell mentioned several reasons why coming to the Ravens had qualities that intrigued him.
Watching from afar as the Ravens went 14-2 last year, Campbell was struck by how much the Ravens seemed to enjoy football and being around each other. He got the same vibe at the Pro Bowl when he spent time with Ravens players. Campbell isn't worried about trying to establish a winning culture in Baltimore, because the Ravens already have it.
"You can tell there's a culture that's very infectious," Campbell said. "A lot of the guys care about each other and they have a strong bond. Guys have a lot of trust and respect for each other. You don't win 14 games without having a strong bond. I'm very excited to be a part of that culture."
Campbell is impressed with what he's heard about playing for Head Coach John Harbaugh and Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale.
After making phone calls to his friends around the league, Campbell said Harbaugh has carved out a strong reputation among players during his 12 years as the Ravens' coach.
"Every single player who I talked to who's played for him says great things about him," Campbell said. "I've talked to a lot of people over the years, and that really does say a lot."
Campbell brings versatility as a run-stopper and pass-rusher who can play anywhere along the defensive line. Baltimore will have one of the NFL's most physically imposing defensive lines with Campbell, Brandon Williams and the reported acquisition of Michael Brockers. Campbell's presence will give Martindale another talented piece to work with.
"The thing I like about Wink is that he's very creative and uses people in different positions," Campbell said. "I believe that my versatility to line up all over the defensive line, move lateral and vertical, is a big strength of mine. I've always appreciated the mind of a really good defensive coordinator, why he'll draw up certain blitzes, what he sees. I'm really eager to pick his brain. He's considered one of the best coaches when it comes to creativity."
Offensively, Campbell is looking forward to watching a Ravens offense led by Lamar Jackson go to work.
Campbell wanted to join a team where the quarterback situation was stable. Coming to the Ravens meant becoming Lamar Jackson's teammate, which Campbell is looking forward to.
"Lamar's very dynamic," Campbell said. "I enjoy the way he plays the game. The toughness he shows, play in and play out. He's a guy I've been following ever since college and I'm a big fan. I still believe he's underrated. I know he just won an MVP, but there's still a lot of people who doubt him. I look forward to seeing his growth and development. When I was going through the process of this trade, that quarterback position is a big part of it. I really believe that he's a guy who can lead this team to win the Super Bowl. Hopefully this is the year for that."