Since the beginning of the 2011 season, one of the most consistent and disruptive defense players for the Arizona Cardinals has been Calais Campbell. Through 13 games, Campbell has collected seven sacks, eight passes deflected, an interception and one forced fumble. On top of that, Campbell has had a huge impact on special teams, blocking three field goals this season.
Campbell is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season. How should the Cardinals go about extending his contract? Let's look at some comparisons and some possible salary figures after the jump.
There is no doubt that Campbell is the type of player that teams want to build their defenses around. That is why back in November, Kent Somers reported that the team planned on beginning negotiations with Campbell and his agent very soon. The question is not whether or not he will be back with the team, but at what price?
Darnell Dockett signed his four-year extension last season, worth a total of $48 million with $30 million being guaranteed. Campbell has arguably played better than Dockett this season, but there are a few things that must be taken into account.
First of all, Campbell does not command the type of attention that Dockett consistently does. Rarely will Dockett be matched up one-on-one with an opposing lineman, as he will always win that battle. With Dockett occupying so much attention, Campbell is much more free to make the plays required. That isn't to take anything away from Calais, but it is something to consider.
Also, Dockett has a much better résumé to show than Campbell. Dockett has made three Pro Bowls during his time in the league, while Campbell has yet to make one. His time will undoubtedly come, but as Somers noted in his article, the coaches need to see more "consistency" from him, as do the voters that help him get to Hawaii.
Campbell is a perfect fit for the 3-4 scheme that the Cardinals look to keep in tact for the long haul. With his great length (he is 6'8") and superior athleticism, it is no wonder why Campbell currently leads the Cardinals in sacks this season.
So how much should Arizona pay for him to keep his talents in the desert?
I don't think the Cardinals can afford to give him the type of contract that Dockett received last year. He does not have the same background that Dockett does, nor does he have the same team duties and responsibilities. Somers laid out the idea of using Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards' contract as a template. He recently signed, as a free agent, a 5-year, $30 million deal.
I personally think it will take more than that to keep Calais happy. Campbell is a much more dominant player than Edwards, having over double the tackles and sacks that Edwards does. Believe me, I am no GM, but if I had to guess, I would say Campbell will end up signing a five year deal in excess of $40 million.
The good news is that if the Cardinals cannot come to terms with Calais on a reasonable deal, they can always use the franchise tag. If you recall, the franchise tag became a very necessary tool in dealing with past star players such as Karlos Dansby.
The tag would allow Campbell to stay on the team for another year and get paid among the top five players at his position in the league. The extra year would give the club the opportunity to continue negotiations with Calais and hopefully come to a deal.
So how do you feel about all of this, Cards fans? What do you think Campbell will get paid? Should we start up a #PAYTHEMAN hashtag on Twitter like we did for Dockett? Leave your comments below.