Jason Campbell’s career turned Oct. 16, 2011, when he landed on his shoulder after a hit by Browns linebackers Scott Fujita and Chris Gocong and broke his collarbone.
Oakland improved to 4-2 that day and Campbell had been playing some of the best football of his career. He had completed 61 percent of his passes for 1,170 yards, six touchdowns, four interceptions and an 84.2 rating.
Two days later the Raiders traded for Carson Palmer, and Campbell was no longer a starting quarterback in the NFL.
Campbell will be surrounded by orange helmets again after signing a two-year contract with Cleveland on Tuesday reportedly worth $3.75 million.
“How ironic is that?” he said Thursday on a conference call with local media. “The team that broke my collarbone is the team I’m playing for now, so it’s definitely something I thought about when I signed.”
Campbell became a free agent after the 2011 season and signed with the Bears as a backup to Jay Cutler. He feels his career took a detour when the collarbone snapped.
“It was real tough. I feel like I was coming into my prime,” he said. “I finally had got a chance to be in a system for more than a year. So I feel I was really taking off, really blossoming, really having an opportunity to control the line of scrimmage and see some things.
“Then to find out they traded for Carson and then to have to accept a different role the next year, it was tough. Because you felt like something was kinda just took from you a little bit, and the only thing you can do about it is keep moving forward. And just understand sometimes it’s just the nature of the business, it’s not just you personally.”
Campbell hasn’t given up the hope of becoming a starter again, but he’ll begin offseason workouts Monday as the backup to Brandon Weeden.
“Brandon’s the starter, and there’s competition,” CEO Joe Banner told 92.3 The Fan. “He’ll have to come in and play well and work hard and prove that he deserves to maintain the position he starts in.”
Campbell realizes there’s a chance he could win the job, but that’s not his focus.
“I’ll definitely get an opportunity to compete,” Campbell said. “There’s nothing that’s promised or has been said or written, but I’m going to come in and help the best way I possibly can. Whatever my role is I’m going to give 100 percent at it, and I’m going to compete at 100 percent at each role.
“I understand Weeden was a first-round draft pick last year. So I understand he’s going to have an opportunity to grow as well. I’m not going to really get caught up into everything and the speculations that might be going on.”
His team-first approach doesn’t mean Campbell has resigned himself to life as a backup.
“I still believe I can play that position,” he said, referring to the No. 1 quarterback. “I definitely feel like I can still play at a high level.”
Campbell is 31 years old, just two years older than Weeden. But Campbell has eight years in the league, compared to Weeden’s one.
“I can talk to him about the NFL,” said Campbell, who’s started 71 games with 76 touchdowns, 52 interceptions and an 82.5 rating. He is 31-40 as a starter. “Point blank, there’s going to be some highs and lows that you go through at this position. Teams are really good, players are really good these days and just to bring him in and show him a few ins and outs, leadership qualities and just continue to try to help him along the way to get better as a player and in every possible way.
“I’m definitely willing to help him. He’s older in age, but still young in the league, so there’s some things I can talk to him (about) and help him with.”
The signing of Campbell bumps Colt McCoy from his role as backup, but Banner insists he isn’t ready to shove McCoy out the door.
“Our plan is to keep Colt,” he said. “That’s not etched in stone if somebody was interested in trading for him, (or) if we got to a part in training camp where we had to make some tough decisions that could include whether we even keep two or three quarterbacks. He’ll compete with Jason just as Jason will compete with Weeden.
“We’ve certainly not decided he won’t be on the team or that he’ll be traded, but at the same time, I can’t honestly rule that out. He won’t be released until we get to a situation we may have to make some numbers decisions. Then who knows what will happen?”
Banner also won’t rule out drafting a quarterback, even at No. 6, although he said that’s not the focus. According to reports, the Browns will host West Virginia’s Geno Smith, Florida State’s E.J. Manuel and Arizona’s Matt Scott.
It’s all part of Banner’s quest to find the long-term answer at the position, whether it’s Weeden or not.