OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — If this was a typical NFL offseason, Baltimore Ravens newcomer Calais Campbell would have taken his physical at the team facility, signed his contract extension within the building and introduced himself at a news conference attended by general manager Eric DeCosta and coach John Harbaugh.
The state of a world dealing with the deadly new coronavirus changed all that.
Campbell, a five-time Pro Bowl defensive end, was in Arizona last week when he learned of the trade that sent him from Jacksonville to the Ravens. He took his physical at a nearby Mayo Clinic, received his contract online, signed it and sent it back. And finally, Campbell spoke to the Baltimore media for the first time Thursday via a conference call from his Jacksonville home.
”Just getting the medical records and doing all the paperwork was a little bit trickier than it normally would have been,” Campbell said. ”That process was very unique. And then the process of signing the contract and getting it back. It was kind of interesting, and now we’re not allowed in the building.”
It could be quite a while before Campbell formally meets his new coaching staff and teammates. The Ravens have shut down their training facility and, like most NFL teams, will likely end up canceling offseason training activities. That means Campbell will be working out on his own and might have to wait a bit before getting his hands on the Baltimore playbook.
”They assured me they’ll give me the playbook and everything essential to learning the system as soon as they’re allowed to. I’m not sure when that’s going to be,” Campbell said. ”As long as I get the playbook and can watch some tape, I should be OK.”
The Ravens got Campbell for the fifth-round pick they obtained from Atlanta last week in the trade that sent tight end Hayden Hurst to the Falcons. Campbell said there were four or five teams interested in negotiating a trade with the Jaguars, but he was intent upon going to a Baltimore team that went 14-2 last season and is expected to be a Super Bowl contender in 2020.
For that reason, the 12-year veteran was willing to play for the Ravens at a bargain price.
”At the end of the day, I was more confident going to Baltimore even if I had to take less,” Campbell said. ”This team could be very special for a good while here, so I wanted to throw my hat into the ring. What I bring to the table, and what the team already has, I feel like we can be very good this year.”
Campbell, the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award recipient in February, has made the Pro Bowl in each of the last three seasons. In addition to being a force against the run, his 31+ sacks since 2017 are seventh most in the NFL. The 6-foot-8, 300-pounder has also started 90 straight games dating back to 2014.
”This is a guy that really creates some interesting matchup problems for offenses and is still playing at a very, very high level,” DeCosta said.
There are no face-to-face contract negotiations these days because of restrictions surrounding COVID-19. DeCosta worked up a deal with a one-year extension that would pay Campbell $15 million in 2020 and $10 million in 2021, with $20 million guaranteed, and sent it out for approval.
”My agent wasn’t too happy about that because he thought I was going to get a whole lot more,” Campbell said. ”But I told him at this point in my career, my main goal is winning. I’ve made a whole lot of money from the game and to me, money has played a small role.
”I’m going to be 34 when the season starts, and the motivation to put the work in to be the best you can be gets harder and harder each year. When you believe you have a chance to win a Super Bowl, it makes it just a little bit easier. Knowing that I just add value – instead of trying to create a winning culture – was a big selling point for me. And obviously, they made it worth my while with a lot of guaranteed money.”
Now all Campbell has to do is get into shape by the time the Ravens finally have their first team practice, whenever that might be. Problem is, he can’t use the team facility or a local gym.
”I haven’t done as much body work as I normally would do right now,” he acknowledged. ”As far as people that come by and working with me, I haven’t done that much because I’m trying to create social distancing. Hopefully we can get back to doing stuff and interacting pretty soon. I guess it can be scary in a sense. You just have to do the best you can.”
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