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If Calais Campbell does not return, it could open salary for multiple other players to come back

A look at the potential positive aspect of Campbell not coming back to Arizona.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, we looked at the negative of losing a Calais Campbell in free agency.

Consistent, high end play will have to be replaced, but there are some reason that losing the soon to be 31 year old could be beneficial.

A positive spin to this equation is that the cap relief would enable the Cardinals to re-sign more of their priority free agents:

· Chandler Jones

· Both Tony Jefferson and D.J. Swearinger

· Jermaine Gresham

· Kevin Minter (Now crucial in this scenario to provide continuity on defence)

Furthermore, they would likely receive a 3rd round compensatory pick in the 2018 draft because Campbell would be fittingly paid like one of the preeminent defensive interior players in the league. This could give Arizona the ammunition to target a quarterback of the future if they haven’t already done so.

Calais is currently 30 years old (and will be 31 throughout the 2017 season). This is his last chance for a big contract and there will be a scrum of playoff calibre teams waiting to pounce, thinking the productive veteran can put them over the top. Teams like the Cowboys, Broncos and Seahawks (shoot me now) spring to mind. Campbell’s value will never be this high again.

Could Arizona take a leaf out of the Bill Belichick playbook and ‘sell high’ by letting him be signed by another team. Arizona have already proven they don’t like handing out large contracts and guarantees to players over 30 e.g. Karlos Dansby.

This would be unlikely as Keim, Arians and Bidwill think their own Superbowl window is currently wide open but slowly closing as Palmer and Fitzgerald inch toward retirement. However, accumulating draft capital (and managing it proficiently) is one way of ensuring a franchise’s window stays open.

The departure of Calais may or may not be disastrous for the defense but it is hard to quantify what impact it could have on locker-room chemistry. Seeing the second longest tendered Cardinal walk away for another franchise would leave a significant leadership void. In more ways than one Calais Campbell is the biggest (and potentially most important) free-agent domino to fall this offseason.

What do you think? Can the Cardinal’s playoff aspirations survive the loss of Calais Campbell? Could his departure open doors for younger players to emerge and shine? Let me know in the comments.