Bears picked as potential landing spot for veteran DL Calais Campbell
Brett Davis - USA Today Sports

Bears picked as potential landing spot for veteran DL Calais Campbell

by - Senior Writer -

With rookie mini-camp just around the corner and training camp shortly after, it's easy to see the excitement building in Chicago. After all, this could go down as the greatest offseason in Chicago Bears history, as the team not only drafted Caleb Williams No. 1 but also took Rome Odunze at No.9.

Those picks came after the Bears traded for Keenan Allen and signed D'Andre Swift as a free agent, further improving an offense that needed some life. Even with the additions this team made, other areas on this team still need to be addressed, with the biggest hole coming on the defensive side of the ball.

Since the start of the 2021 season, Chicago ranks 28th out of 32 in total sacks, as getting after the QB has been an issue. They were hoping to fix that last season with Yannick Ngakoue, but after a slow start to the year and finishing with a season-ending ankle injury, his production was minimal at best. Chicago did manage to bring in Montez Sweat via a trade from Washington, and he immediately made the impact the Bears were hoping for, as he led the team in sacks despite playing just nine games.

It will be interesting to see what he can do with a full 17 games this season, but unless the Bears get him some help, the production may not be there. The consensus right now is that the Bears and Ngakoue will come to an agreement on another one-year deal, which wouldn't be the end of the world. Ngakoue is a proven veteran who produces when on the field, and his veteran leadership will be huge for the younger guys in the locker.

However, there are some other names that make sense for Chicago, and one of the recent names being thrown out there happens to be one of the 10 best remaining free agents, Calais Campbell. Given the team's state and the offseason, not much will upset Bears fans right now, even if they know this team needs more pass-rushing help.

Campbell may not seem like an ideal candidate, but for the right price, he is a piece that every defense would take and would this Bears in other ways than just getting after the passer. At 6-8, Campbell is one of the bigger players in the NFL despite seeing his weight drop from 300 pounds down to 284. That tends to happen with age, and with him now being 37, he is nearing the end of what has been a very successful NFL career.

The 16-year NFL veteran began his career with the Arizona Cardinals, playing nine seasons there before moving on to Baltimore and a few other teams. Over the past seven years, Campbell has bounced around a bit more, spending three years in Baltimore, three in Jacksonville, and one last season in Atlanta.

Over the course of his career, Campbell has not only been one of the better run stuffers in the game but also one of the better pass rushers, as he has 105 career sacks. Pair that with 175 tackles for a loss, 17 forced fumbles, and 13 fumble recoveries, and some would make the case that he has been one of the best DTs of this generation. Despite his age, there is still enough left in the tank to help the Bears' defense this season.

As things stand right now, Sweat will be the focal point for everyone, as he is the most talented defender on the defensive side of the ball. The more pressure he gets, the better things will be for Jaylon Johnson, Kyler Gordon, Jonathan Owens, Tyrique Stevenson, Jaquon Brisker, and the rest of the back end, as they were turnover machines down the stretch.

However, the more production Sweat gets early on. the more attention will be put upon him thus forcing others to step up and get after the QB. Gervon Dexter and Zaach Pickens are internal options to great pressure, as is rookie Austin Booker. Considering how you never know what rookies will bring to the table, the Bears may be looking for a sure thing on defense, which is where the future Hall of Famer Campbell comes into play.

Even though his production has been down the past few seasons as he enters the end of his career, he was still productive enough on the field in 2023 to make an impact and should be able to do that again this season. He knows how to get after the quarterback from the interior side of the line while also using his size to his advantage to stop the run.

He also has 16 years of NFL experience, which cannot be taught, and that knowledge alone will make him a great locker-room guy for the rookies to lean on. As long as he isn't asking too much, the Bears have the resources to make this work, and they have an area of need that he would fill nicely.

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