From the time the Cardinals used the franchise tag on defensive end Calais Campbell, general manager Rod Graves insisted it was just a matter of time before Campbell was signed to a new long-term contract.
That time arrived Thursday, when Campbell agreed to a new five-year contract with the team. Terms were not announced, in keeping with club policy, and not immediately available, but Campbell’s franchise salary was scheduled to be about $10.7 million for 2012.
UPDATE: NFL.com reported that Campbell's deal is worth $55 million, with $36 million over the first three years.
The deadline to get Campbell on a long-term contract wasn’t until mid-July, but he had long expressed optimism that it wouldn’t come down to that. The 2008 second-round draft pick blossomed in 2011, piling up a team-best eight sacks, getting 73 tackles (a big number for a 3-4 defensive end), an interception, 11 pass knockdowns, two forced fumbles and 11 tackles for loss.
He also was a game-changer on special teams, blocking three field goals – including a game-saver against St. Louis on the final play of regulation.
Campbell has evolved into a core player of the defense, and doesn’t turn 26 until Sept. 1.
“I feel I can be a difference-maker,” Campbell said last season. “I feel like I can win games, help my team win games, and I don’t really feel like I have done that yet. I know it’s coming. I know I have the ability to be great.”
Campbell, who usually is one of the mainstays of the voluntary offseason work, has been absent from it so far waiting for a new deal. But he was hopeful when asked about it just before workouts started, noting in a text message he wouldn’t be coming: “Not until I sign a deal and that hasn’t happened yet so hopefully soon but not yet.”
A press conference for Campbell will be held Friday.