DENVER -- Late Wednesday night, it appeared the Jacksonville Jaguars would land defensive end Calais Campbell, pairing him with Malik Jackson. The story began to shift before contracts could become official Thursday at 2 p.m.
While Jacksonville offered the most money, Denver is home to Campbell. He starred at Denver South, once holding the state sack record. The gravitational pull to remain in the Mile High City was strong. Campbell pushed the pause button, weighing a free agent offer from the Broncos.
But according to ESPN, after mulling over his choices, Campbell chose the Jaguars' more lucrative offer. The deal was reported at four years, $60 million with $30 million guaranteed. The amount guaranteed upon at signing was critical to closing the deal with Campbell.
The Jaguars offered Campbell $15 million per season, a huge pay day for a strong defender who has comparable pressures to J.J. Watt and Geno Atkins over the last several years. The Broncos wanted him, but as is always the case under shrewd general manager John Elway, they set a number and exercised discipline. Campbell would have had to take less to stay home. In the end, he accepted roughly $2 million more per season.
To put in perspective, the Broncos signed defensive end Derek Wolfe during the 2015 playoff run to a four-year, $36 million deal with $17.5 million guaranteed. It speaks to the importance of locking up core players before they reach free agency.
The Broncos continue looking for offensive linemen in free agency. That remains their top priority, not quarterback Tony Romo. Rumors have circulating Thursday that the Cowboys now will hold onto Romo and attempt to trade him. It is, as they say, a developing story.