Jaguars' Calais Campbell has to be back in 2019 -- at any price

Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell has played in all 15 games, has 17 quarterback hits and leads the team in sacks (nine) and tackles for loss (19). Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Calais Campbell recorded a sack and forced and recovered a fumble in the Jacksonville Jaguars' 17-7 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium.

Campbell was continuously disruptive as a pass-rusher -- he also had three QB hits -- and gave the Dolphins all kinds of trouble against the run (two tackles for loss). It was a typical, dominant game for the 11th-year defensive end since he joined the franchise before the 2017 season.

Imagine how good he would be if he weren't so banged up that he has a hard time remembering exactly what he has hurt, and when, in 2018. That he has been so productive despite all those injuries is a testament to his toughness -- and the major reason the Jaguars have to bring him back for 2019.

"I have way more going on with me this year than ever before," Campbell said. "I don't know if that's just old age or just bad luck. I don't know. I'm hoping that next year it won't be as bad, because I definitely want to keep doing this. But this was definitely the most nagging injuries I've had.

"Especially early in the season, it was one thing after another that just lingered for a couple weeks, and I'm just trying to play through it. I was out there on heart a little bit sometimes."

His teammates saw him battle every injury and never take a snap off. Myles Jack said that what that means to the team goes beyond respect.

"It's hard to put in words, but we definitely appreciate a guy who's in his 11th year, banged up, obviously hurting week in, week out, but he comes out there and gives it everything he's got and makes plays," Jack said. "He made a bunch of big plays on reverses, had some sacks, being disruptive, so we definitely appreciate it as linebackers when the D-line is just eating things up.

"He could easily put the brakes on. He's 11 years in the game, but he's out there going just as hard as anybody else, trying to make plays, trying to win for the team."

That's why Jacksonville executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin and general manager Dave Caldwell would be foolish if they made Campbell, who has a $12 million salary and $14.5 million cap figure in 2019, one of the cuts the team will make in the offseason as the Jaguars try to get under the salary cap. The Jaguars are $12.2 million over the projected salary cap in 2019, per ESPN's Roster Management System.

Maybe they can work something out with Campbell to restructure his contract, but even if they can't, Campbell is worth the money. The Jaguars gave him a four-year, $60 million contract with $30 million guaranteed as a free agent in 2017. All he did in his first season was set the franchise record with 14.5 sacks and be a finalist for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award. He was a first-team All-Pro and a Pro Bowler.

What he has done in 2018 might be more impressive, considering the situation. He has dealt with injuries to his knees, ankles, hand and lower back -- sometimes multiple problems at the same time -- but has played in all 15 games, has 17 quarterback hits and leads the team in sacks (nine) and tackles for loss (19). If he gets a sack in the season finale at the Houston Texans, he'll become the first player in franchise history to have back-to-back seasons of double-digit sacks.

Campbell also has played very well against the run. Sacks are the stat that gets defensive ends the most attention, but Jaguars coach Doug Marrone called Campbell the most dominant run defender in the NFL.

All while fighting through one injury after another after another ...

"I kind of always prided myself on battling through things and being a tough player," Campbell said. "I like being able to push through things and be able to still be out there and go be productive. If I feel like I'm not going to be productive, I wouldn't go. I knew that even though I had some things lingering and some injuries, I knew that I could still be productive.

"A lot of that is being a vet and knowing how to adjust my game, but it definitely would have been a lot better if I was 100 percent healthy. But this game of football, nobody cares if you're injured. If you're out there, you've got to play good ball."

Campbell certainly has, which is why the Jaguars have to bring him back in 2019. He has been the best free-agent signing in franchise history, and his impact goes beyond the field, Marrone said.

"I got the question last week about, 'Do you think he should have been in the Pro Bowl?' Absolutely," Marrone said. "Just what he represents as an NFL football player. I think anyone that has children and they want to aspire to be the greatest they can be, and if they're looking for someone to be a role model, I would say it's Calais. He works extremely hard during the week. Does an unbelievable job of taking care of his body.

"He's been probably the most dominant run defender in the league this year. He always shows up every single week, every single game. He has great impact on the locker room. Great impact with the younger players. Great impact with the coaches. ... As we move on or whatever we do in our careers, we want to get players like him."

The Jaguars have one, and they should keep him around.