Falcons: Calais Campbell might not be done just yet

NFL: OCT 15 Commanders at Falcons

When the Falcons signed Calais Campbell to a one-year contract last offseason, it shocked a lot of people around the league. The then 36-year-old already had a Hall-of-Fame resume. The only thing missing is a Super Bowl ring, which was always a far-fetched expectation in Atlanta. Several Super Bowl contenders showed interest, but he liked the pitch from Arthur Blank, Arthur Smith, and Terry Fontenot, leading to him signing with the Falcons.

As a team, the season didn’t go as expected. Desmond Ridder struggled, and Arthur Smith’s offense regressed, which ultimately resulted in him being fired at the end of the season. However, the defense made incredible strides in just one year, going from a bottom-five unit to one of the more well respected groups in the league.

A primary reason for that was Calais Campbell. Even at age 37, he hasn’t looked like he’s lost a step. Campbell’s stout against the run and recorded the most sacks in a season (6.5) since back in 2018 when he was with Jacksonville. He also stayed remarkably healthy, playing in 17 games for the first time in his career.

There’s no question that Campbell still has at least one more year in him if he wants to continue playing, but sometimes guys prefer to retire on their own terms. For Campbell, that decision has not been made yet, but he did tell Fox 5’s Kelly Price that he’s “leaning towards playing again.”

Firing Arthur Smith could complicate things when it comes to Calais Campbell returning to the Falcons. His support for his head coach never wavered amid the outside noise, and things could get even messier if Ryan Nielsen is not retained as defensive coordinator by the next head coach.

The Falcons defense made incredible strides under Nielsen, and Campbell clearly benefitted from his style of defense. If Nielsen isn’t brought back, it’s hard seeing Campbell wanting to return, but the Falcons should pull out all the stops to keep him if he does decide to play another season.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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