Re-signing Calais Campbell important for Arizona Cardinals

Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /

The lack of free agent replacements for the Arizona Cardinals’ star defensive end makes retaining his services imperative

The Arizona Cardinals are in a tough spot this offseason. There’s some major quality scattered throughout the players they have set to become free agents next month. One such Cardinal is defensive end Calais Campbell.

Out of the whole group of candidates the club stands to lose, Campbell may be the most difficult to replace. He’s head and shoulders above every other 3-4 defensive end set to hit the market. His production this past season was outstanding, consisting of 53 tackles, eight sacks, six passes defensed, an interception and a touchdown.

Considering the lack of star-quality free agents at defensive end in ’17, Campbell’s management team has a good bit of leverage. General manager Steve Keim may have a tough time getting the Cards’ mainstay to agree to any “hometown” discount during negotiations.

Karl Klug has produced consistently in six seasons as a Tennessee Titan. He enters free agency with 110 career tackles, 20 sacks and eight passes defensed. While not the star that Campbell is, Klug is a workman-like performer on the defensive line.

More from Raising Zona

Stephen Paea’s play has dropped off since leaving the Chicago Bears following the 2014 season, his best campaign. In 16 games started that year, he racked up 33 tackles, six sacks and two passes defensed. At 28 years old, perhaps Paea can regain that type of form with better talent around him in the desert.

Leger Douzable is a 30-year old entering free agency, having played for five different franchises in his career. He had his most productive year in ’16 with the Buffalo Bills. He amassed 43 tackles, one and a half sacks and one pass defensed.

Lawrence Guy is a veteran of three NFL clubs, the latest being the Baltimore Ravens. His numbers dipped last season after he posted 46 tackles, four and a half sacks and a pass defensed in 2015. The 26-year old free agent’s best days may still be ahead of him.

Bringing Frostee Rucker back to the nest is an option, but he’s coming off of one of the most least-productive campaigns of his 11-year career. Apparently, Rucker is also considering retirement.

Other free-agent possibilities include Vance Walker, Ricardo Matthews, Kendall Reyes and Damion Square. Again, they are not names that will have Cards’ fans jumping for joy.

Campbell is without a doubt the team’s best option. Whether or not general manager Steve Keim can find a way to keep him in Arizona will be one of the offseason’s most burning questions.