NFL dreamin'

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:35 AM ET

Kelly Campbell's stellar rookie season in the Canadian Football League could become a problem for the Edmonton Eskimos this winter.

Campbell - the Green and Gold's second leading receiver with 1,017 yards on just 43 catches - has told Sun Media he will jump to the NFL this off-season if he receives a training camp offer from an American team.

'I AM GONE'

"I am gone," said Kelly if he gets an offer from the NFL.

"(Playing in the NFL) has been my dream."

But Campbell repeatedly states he is focused on finishing the year with the Eskimos.

Averaging a stunning 23.7-yards per catch to lead the CFL in that department, the 28-year-old has been a critical addition this year with loss of Jason Tucker to a broken neck.

And Campbell believes his production in Canada will help his case for returning to the NFL.

The Georgia Tech product played three seasons for the Minnesota Vikings earlier this decade.

"Teams (in the NFL) wanted to see if I was still able to play the game of football," said Campbell on why this CFL season helps his resume. "They wanted to see me in a game situation."

But there are some question marks hanging around Campbell in his quest to return to the United States.

The biggest one relates to his age.

"I think the thing that may work against him is his age. I know we had parameters - both NFL clubs I was with - and having talked to some other NFL clubs this season, one of the first things they ask is: How old is (Campbell)?" said Eskimos receiver coach Mike Kelly, who has spent time with Washington and Philadelphia in the NFL.

"He is right there. Twenty eight is the mark that says - he is too old now. When the NFL clubs come up here to look, they are looking for somebody that is relatively fresh."

The other factor that could work against Campbell is salary. If he returns to the NFL, he would be classified as a fourth-year veteran.

Based on the salary grid, he would need to be paid in the neighbourhood of $600,000 US.

"There is always a perception that the NFL has an abundance of money. There is a lot of the same conundrums in the NFL that the CFL faces," continued Kelly.

"They still have to be prudent with how they handle the salary cap."

What helps Campbell in his dream to return to the NFL is he apparently still has the ability to stay on a practice roster.

Of course, an NFL team has to be interested in taking a chance on Campbell.

OPTION YEAR

Campbell will enter the option year of his CFL contract in 2009, meaning he has a window to jump to the American league this winter.

But if he doesn't get that opportunity, it sounds like he wants to settle in Edmonton.

"If I end up going back (to the NFL) great. If not, I am an Eskimo for life," he said in advance of tonight's Eskimos' game against the B.C. Lions at Commonwealth Stadium.


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