Falcons need to re-sign this free agent more than any, per ESPN

NFL: OCT 15 Commanders at Falcons

The Falcons have a busy offseason ahead of them. Raheem Morris’ staff is practically complete with Zac Robinson coordinating the offense, Jimmy Lake coordinating the defense, and Marquice Williams still in charge of the third phase of the game.

The rest of the offseason will revolve around what Terry Fontenot and the front office can do to give the new coaching staff the best possible roster to end the Falcons postseason drought, which dates back to the 2018 season.

It’s in good shape, not great shape. There’s an excellent foundation, but there are still needs that must be addressed. The most important is the quarterback position; to me, it’s a more critical decision than the head coach or offensive coordinator hires.

Acquiring a long-term fix for the position is a must. There are others, though. The Falcons need more pass rushers, particularly on the edge, another receiver or two to pair with Drake London, a cornerback to compete with Clark Phillips III for the spot opposite of A.J. Terrell, and as always, bodies in the trenches are a must.

The Falcons have several key decisions on internal free agents as well. Bud Dupree led the defense with 6.5 sacks and shouldn’t be completely written off. If the Falcons can’t undoubtedly upgrade the position, Dupree is a nice fallback plan.

Jeff Okudah is also set to test free agency. The former 3rd overall pick had a tumultuous 2023 campaign, much like his career. Okudah had several encouraging weeks before an injury knocked him out of the lineup. Once he returned, he struggled mightily. In terms of depth, Okudah could fill the void, but I’m not sure the Falcons should go into 2024 expecting him to be a starter.

Scotty Miller and Kentavius Street are the other two impending free agents that have piqued my interest. The former is a speedster who could thrive in Zac Robinson’s offense, especially considering the Falcons’ lack of receivers. The latter proved to be valuable depth along the defensive line.

However, none of them are potentially as impactful as Calais Campbell, who ESPN believes is the Falcons biggest looming free agent decision.

This would have been a simpler decision had Arthur Smith had been retained as Falcons coach — and it probably would have been Campbell’s choice whether to return after a 56-tackle, 6.5-sack season. There are multiple layers to this: Does Campbell, who will be 38 next season, want to keep playing? If that answer is yes, does he believe in the vision and path to quick success of Raheem Morris’ coaching staff? And does Morris’ staff want to invest in Campbell, who had a $7.5 million cap hit in 2023? Those are the questions that will determine Campbell’s future in Atlanta. — Michael Rothstein

I don’t really think this is a Falcons decision and more of a Calais Campbell decision. If Campbell wants to play in Atlanta, Raheem Morris would be a fool not to welcome him with open arms.

However, the veteran could be weighing retirement or other free agent destinations. Jacksonville feels like a potential fit. Campbell played for the Jaguars, where he experienced his best seasons, and Ryan Nielsen is the new defensive coordinator.

The Falcons should absolutely roll out the red carpet for Calais Campbell, but again, it’s not really their decision.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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