Calais Campbell will take time to contemplate his future, but he hopes Lamar Jackson's future is with the Ravens.
Jackson missed the final six games of the season, including Sunday night's playoff loss to the Bengals. But as the franchise quarterback enters another offseason without a long-term contract, Campbell believes the best move for the Ravens is to move forward with Jackson.
"You can't let a guy like him go," said Campbell, who said he would take several weeks to process whether he will retire or return for a 16th NFL season.
"I know it's football, and there's always some new exciting toy, new exciting kid that has potential to go out there and be great. But this is a for-sure, a known. You know Lamar Jackson is an incredible player. I think it's in the best interests of the Ravens' organization to give him a long-term contract, make him our guy."
Campbell pushed back on the notion that Jackson's teammates are frustrated or disappointed with him.
"I think that's a lot of outside noise," Campbell said. "We're here. We get to talk to him. We get to communicate with him. We get to see him rehab. I mean, I was rehabbing with him. I know he put the work in. He just didn't get back in time.
"Those injuries, I know how it goes. I've been injured plenty of times before. Some stuff you can play through, some stuff you can't. It wasn't for lack of effort, that's for sure. The outside world, all the different narratives and stuff … sometimes it's humorous. Lamar Jackson's a guy who loves the game of football. I truly believe he worked as hard as he could to give himself a chance to play. As he gets older and more wise, he'll learn how to take care of his body in different ways."
Jackson was not in the locker room Monday during the period that was open to the media as players cleaned out their lockers. However, it wasn't difficult to find teammates speaking up on his behalf.
Left tackle Ronnie Stanley said he could relate to Jackson's situation on a personal level. Stanley underwent multiple surgeries and months of rehab after a severe ankle injury in 2020 and knows that players aren't always ready to return, even when it looks like they could be.
"I never once questioned Lamar's tactics when it came to his body," Stanley said. "He knows what's going on in his body more than we all know. I felt the same about my situation. There's a lot of things that may look good to the normal eye that may seem like someone can perform. But when you do this at a high level, you know if you can be effective or not. I trust Lamar."
Stanley is not imagining a scenario where Jackson is not Baltimore's starting quarterback next season.
"It doesn't weigh on me all that much," Stanley said. "All I know is that I want Lamar to be playing here with me as long as I'm playing. He knows that and I have full faith that they're going to work something out. In my mind, I know he's going to be here. He's a competitor, he wants to win, and this is his team and his offense. The money is not the most important thing to Lamar. He really wants to win, contrary to popular belief."
Right tackle Morgan Moses' locker is just a few stalls away from Jackson's. After his first season with the Ravens, Moses also wants to keep moving forward with Jackson.
"I certainly hope so," Moses said. "That's his business, and I'm not going to step in his business. He's a hell of a player. I thank him every day, the type of person he is, the type of player he is, the type of teammate he is. Even just coming in here with my children, getting to sit around with him and talk to him and him treating them like family, that's huge. You don't find that in a lot of places. Whatever he needs to take care of, he'll take care of. But at the end of the day, he's a brother for life, and I look forward to suiting up again with him next year."
Jackson and Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews have been close since entering the NFL together in the 2018 draft. They have aspirations of winning a Super Bowl together, and Andrews said that hasn't changed.
"Yes, I hope that he's going to be back," Andrews said. "That's my guy. I have nothing but love and respect for No. 8 as a person, as a player and as a friend. I love the guy, so I hope he's back."