Falcons star was a “big part” of why Calais Campbell chose Atlanta

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When Calais Campbell chose to sign a one-year deal with the Falcons over numerous obvious Super Bowl contenders, most people wondered… why? I’ve even asked myself that several times, but in reality, it wasn’t just one thing that led Campbell to decided Atlanta was the best place for him during the twilight years of his career.

Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot took time to sit down with the future Hall-of-Famer to discuss why they believe Desmond Ridder could lead this team to the postseason for the first time since 2017. Arthur Blank also personally contacted Campbell about different philanthropic efforts they could work on together, but could it be one of the most important factors was actually the Falcons personnel?

According to Campbell himself, Grady Jarrett was a “big part” of why he ended up in Atlanta.

For years, Jarrett has been a one-man wrecking crew across the defensive front for the Falcons, which is a primary reason why he’s one of the most underrated players at the position.

That will no longer be the case in 2023. In fact, it should be the opposite. Calais Campbell and David Onyemata join Jarrett on the defensive line this season, a unit that ESPN recently ranked third in all of football. 

Two-time Pro Bowler Grady Jarrett is the notable incumbent and anchor of this group. Six-time Pro Bowler Calais Campbell is 36 years old but is fresh off another strong season and will work from the edge and inside. New defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen brought David Onyemata over from New Orleans, and he’ll play a substantial role. This is a big upgrade for a defense that was 29th in EPA last season.

The Falcons edge group still leaves a lot to be desired, but it also possesses the potential to be a much better unit than last season. The hope is that Arnold Ebiketie and DeAngelo Malone can make a leap in their second seasons, while Bud Dupree was also added in free agency, who is hoping to parlay his one-year deal into a much more lucrative contract next offseason.

Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot have talked ad nauseam about improving the Falcons defense up front, but unlike the previous regime, they didn’t just talk the talk; they walked the walk by allocating a ton of money to the defensive line. For the first time in forever, the Falcons look to have a competent unit in the trenches.

Photographer: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire

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