Minnesota Vikings v Atlanta Falcons
Getty Images

There are only three players currently on NFL active rosters from the 2008 NFL Draft: 2023 NFL Comeback Player of the Year quarterback Joe Flacco (Indianapolis Colts), quarterback Josh Johnson (Baltimore Ravens) and new Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Calais Campbell.

Campbell, a six-time Pro Bowler and 2010s All-Decade team member, will turn 38 on Sept. 1, but after a 2023 season in which he started all 17 games for the Atlanta Falcons and totaled 6.5 sacks, 56 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 42 quarterback pressures -- one fewer than New York Giants 2022 fifth overall pick Kayvon Thibodeaux -- he knew he had a little bit left in the tank. 

"I thought about [retiring]," Campbell said, via The Palm Beach Post, on Tuesday. "I don't think I thought about it very long though. ... If you're playing football at a high level, why not do it one more time? Just going through that process and trying to figure out if I really want to do it. It really just came down to just with the family, talking to the wife and kids. ... And it really came down to, do I want to go through the process of what it takes to be good again.

"Because physically, and the desire and love for the game, has never left, not even a little bit. I mean obviously, there was a time when I was a lot more fast and athletic, but I'm still pretty athletic and still can get the job done on the football field. I have to learn how to use other parts of my game, bring a lot more of the strength part but I still have enough finesse and everything else, I got a full box of little tools. But what keeps me going though is a love for the game."    

Plus, the opportunity to join a playoff team in Miami provided him the chance for a different experience in 2024 after the Falcons went 7-10 for the third year in a row in 2023 under now-fired coach Arthur Smith. Campbell has never won the Super Bowl, but he did appear in the big game as a rookie during the 2008 season with the Arizona Cardinals. He and his squad lost Super Bowl XLIII 27-23 after Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw one of the best passing touchdowns in Super Bowl history to the back corner of the end zone to receiver Santonio Holmes, who made a toe-tapping grab for the score.

Therefore, the thirst for another shot at a Super Bowl ring drew Campbell down to South Florida, and to a Miami squad with six Pro Bowlers: quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, wide receiver Tyreek Hill, running back Raheem Mostert, cornerback Jalen Ramsey, left tackle Terron Armstead and fullback Alec Ingold. The Dolphins also added a number of talented veterans this offseason outside of Campbell: cornerback Kendall Fuller, safety Jordan Poyer, edge rusher Shaquil Barrett and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to name a few. 

"I feel like there's a really good opportunity here," Campbell said. "Very talented team all over the field, both offense and defense. I mean, when you go through the roster and who you have, I just see so many people that I feel like we can really play together and really build that team chemistry you need and be a force to reckon with. ... I won't go too crazy but it's going to be a really good defense."  

Campbell will also reunite with a familiar face in Miami in new defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver, who was Campbell's position coach for two of his four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens.

"Huge, huge [selling point]," Campbell said of Weaver. "Because I definitely had quite a few teams interested. And I feel like the main reason I wanted to come here was because I really believe in who Anthony Weaver is as a coach and our relationship. We talked a lot during the process, and he knows what I'm capable of doing. He understands my mind and how I see the game, and he trusts it."  

The 16-year NFL veteran trusts Weaver and the Dolphins with his 17th NFL season, one he hopes concludes with him and Miami hoisting that elusive Vince Lombardi trophy.