The Falcons surprised the NFL world when Calais Campbell chose Atlanta over half a dozen other landing spots, some of which are Super Bowl contenders.
Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot are building an ascending NFL club after years of mediocrity following a magical Super Bowl run. The former All-Pro defender choosing the Falcons is a sign of that.
It’s pretty unusual for a 37-year-old headed for the Hall of Fame to sign with a franchise that hasn’t been to the playoffs in five years, let alone actually competing for a Super Bowl. Most assumed Campbell’s decision would revolve around his chances at a ring. Joining the Falcons at this stage in his career was shocking, but the more that comes to light, the more apparent it is why he chose Atlanta.
Calais Campbell revealed that despite Aaron Rodgers’ efforts to get him to New York, what is happening in Atlanta was more enticing. Moreover, an interesting facet of the Falcons’ recruiting efforts involved Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot sitting down with Campbell and watching film on Desmond Ridder.
In an interview on The Crew podcast with NFL insider Josina Anderson, Campbell revealed where he expects to play on Atlanta’s defense. It sounds like Ryan Nielsen, Arthur Smith, and Terry Fontenot were upfront and transparent about Campbell’s role on the team, which seems to be more towards what he preferred.
Campbell mentioned that he’s only played a true defensive end role three times over his illustrious career and that the Falcons will allow him more opportunities to play off the edge. With the Jaguars, he put up 31.5 sacks in three seasons in that role, including 14.5 sacks in one campaign.
The Falcons didn’t do much to add to the edge unit this offseason. Arnold Ebiketie and DeAngelo Malone are expected to take the next step in their respective developments, while Lorenzo Carter returns following an alright 2022 season. Bud Dupree is the only new face, and he’s coming off a disappointing tenure in Tennesee after the Titans gave him a lucrative contract in free agency.
The reason for the lack of activity is probably due to Campbell’s role. I imagine he will assume an interior presence on early downs while kicking outside during obvious pass rushing downs. Despite his age, Calais Campbell is going to be a significant addition to the defense as a whole and the edge position.
Photographer: Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire
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