The Arizona Cardinals used the eighth overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft on Isaiah Simmons, the versatile Clemson defender whom the franchise wanted to utilize at inside linebacker.
But, without rookie minicamps or a normal offseason, a consensus stance taken by Arizona's coaching staff was that Simmons was not ready to be the full-time starter alongside Jordan Hicks early in the season.
Instead, De'Vondre Campbell, a four-year veteran whom the Cardinals signed as a free agent from Atlanta, filled in that role. He ended up starting all 16 games and playing 79.5 percent of the team's defensive snaps, second-most on the team behind Hicks, per Football Outsiders.
In his opportunity, Campbell, 27, put together a strong start to the season. He played every defensive snap in six of his first eight games, and he never wavered from 6-10 tackles during the first half of the year.
Down the stretch, Campbell started seeing his snaps diminish as Simmons' role increased. He also dealt with a couple of minor injuries, which may or may not have also aided in diminished production. He had no sacks, one pass deflection and one tackle for loss in the final five weeks.
Campbell ended the year with 99 combined tackles (third-most on the team), two sacks and three pass breakups. He did not force a fumble or have an interception.
His season pass coverage numbers were not pretty, as he allowed completions on 73.7 percent of targets. Edge rusher Haason Reddick was the only Cardinals defender who allowed a higher percentage of completions (minimum five attempts).
Opposing passer ratings while targeting Campbell were higher than when they threw towards either Simmons or Hicks, per Pro Football Reference.
The veteran filled a need while Simmons adjusted to NFL game speed. But, with Hicks under contract and Simmons looking to get more playing time going forward, Campbell's role as an every-down starter for Arizona seems to have been temporary.
Moment of the year: His Week 2 performance against the Washington Football Team was his best showing of 2020. He had a season-high 10 tackles, two tackles for loss and two pass deflections. Plus, his pass coverage was stellar against tight ends.
Contract: Campbell signed a five-year contract worth $10 million that in reality was a one-year deal. The contract included a $5 million signing bonus and $1 million base salaries in 2020-2024. However, the final four years of the deal voids if he is on the roster Feb. 12, making him an unrestricted free agent. He counted only $2 million against the 2020 salary cap, but when the deal voids that will trigger a $4 million cap hit in dead money for 2021.
Season performance grade: C-plus
Bring him back?: Simmons received snaps everywhere from inside linebacker to slot corner to safety to edge rusher this past year. Campbell could provide a stable option when Simmons moves around in certain packages.
Verdict: Maybe. If the Cardinals can rework the contract prior to Feb. 12 where they won't pay more than the potential dead cap hit, then yes. But Campbell will more than likely want to be a free agent again.