NFL

Ravens Sure up Their Biggest Need by Trading for Pro-Bowler Calais Campbell

Professional sports may be effectively shut down in America for the next month, but that isn’t stopping NFL general managers from making offseason deals. On Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars agreed in principle to a trade that will send defensive end Calais Campbell to Baltimore for a fifth-round pick.

The Ravens add another Pro Bowler to one of the best all-around rosters in the NFL.

Campbell is owed $15 million in 2020, the final year of his four-year deal with the Jaguars. Jacksonville instead decided to trade Campbell to free up cap space and add to their draft pick stockpile.

If nothing else, this trade serves as a message to each team’s fan base about the direction of their franchise. The Ravens are building to win now. The Jaguars, who made the AFC Championship just three years ago, are now in full rebuild mode.

Calais Campbell is now the Ravens’ best defensive lineman

The Ravens don’t have many holes in their roster, but one of the few was the defensive line. Not anymore. Campbell immediately becomes the Ravens’ best pass-rushing option on the defensive line. In fact, he’s been one of the best across the league for the past decade.

Campbell has totaled 88 sacks in his 12-year NFL career. At 33 years old, he’s showing no real signs of slowing down. He’s amassed 31.5 sacks in the past three years, which is the seventh-most in the NFL over that span. Although his sack total dipped last season, Campbell totaled 25 quarterback hits, the second-most he’s recorded in a single year.

Campbell has also made the Pro Bowl in three consecutive seasons and five of the last six.

Campbell addresses the Ravens’ biggest need for 2020

Baltimore was in desperate need of a pass rusher coming into the 2020 season. The Ravens’ top eight sack leaders from last season were linebackers or secondary players. Chris Wormley led all defensive linemen with only 1.5 sacks in 2019.

Linebacker Matthew Judon led the team in sacks with 9.5 last year. The defensive line combined for just four sacks.

The Ravens relied on exotic blitzes to record most of their sacks from a season ago. Baltimore blitzed more last year (55 percent) than any other team since 2006. For the most part, their linemen were used as decoys to free up space for linebackers and secondary players to blitz the quarterback.

Campbell will add a new dimension to the Ravens’ defensive scheme. With a dominant one-on-one pass rusher in the mix, Baltimore won’t have to expose their secondary with blitzes as much.

Will the Ravens or Jaguars end up winning the trade?

The Ravens appear to win the trade for the immediate future. Acquiring a five-time Pro Bowler for a measly fifth-round pick is a no-brainer. The draft pick was originally acquired from the Minnesota Vikings for kicker Kaare Vedvik, meaning the Ravens scored Campbell from a backup kicker.

As for the Jaguars, they are clearly a team in the beginning stages of a rebuild. Getting rid of Campbell’s $15 million salary and adding another draft pick will help Jacksonville in the future, although it seems like a terrible trade on the surface.

The end goal looks to be Trevor Lawrence in the 2021 draft. The Jaguars are unloading all of their talent for future picks, so they will be one of the worst teams in the league this season and have a great chance to secure the No. 1 overall pick.

For the 2020 season, however, this trade is a home run for the Ravens and a bunt for the Jaguars.