New Falcons defender makes PFF record book

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The Falcons‘ 2023 free agent class will go down as one of the best in franchise history. It might not net a Super Bowl, but it will be the most significant factor in the club’s return to the postseason. Yes, I’m calling my shot.

Jessie Bates III was the crown jewel of the class. The front office didn’t squabble over pennies and nickels, giving the All-Pro just north of $64 million over four years. He’ll solidify the backend, quarterbacking the defense from the secondary.

Coming over from New Orleans, Terry Fontenot went into the Saints’ backyard to ink deals with Kaden Elliss and David Onyemata, giving Atlanta impact defenders at all three levels of the defense on the very first day of free agency.

Throughout the offseason, the Falcons would go on to acquire Jeff Okudah, Mike Hughes, Bud Dupree, Eddie Goldman, and more; however, the most surprising addition has to be Calais Campbell.

The future Hall of Famer chose Atlanta over several Super Bowl contenders in what was a shocking decision for all of the NFL. The Falcons rolled out the red carpet; Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot recruited him by watching film on Desmond Ridder, while Arthur Blank made some level of commitment in a philanthropic manner.

Regardless of what was said or promised, a veteran that has accomplished nearly everything in the league other than a Super Bowl ring choosing to potentially end his career with a club that has virtually no chance of raising the Lombardi is shocking. If you want even more perspective, Calais Campbell was included in PFF’s all-time defense for his 2018 campaign with the Jaguars.

Run-Defense Grade: Calais CampbellJacksonville Jaguars (93.6; 2018)

Unsurprisingly, the gargantuan Campbell makes his way into the PFF record books on account of his remarkable run-stuffing ability. In his time with the Jags, Campbell flourished as one of the best run defenders in the PFF era, earning three-straight seasons of 90-plus grades, peaking at 93.6 in 2018. That season, Campbell broke the record for run defense grade by an edge that was previously held by Von Miller (93.1) since 2012. However, Miller does still hold the record for most seasons (four) earning a 90-plus run defense grade by an edge.

Why am I even talking about this? Well, one of the factors in Campbell choosing the Falcons was a promise for him to revert back to a more traditional defensive end role — one that he played in while with the Jaguars, which are subsequently his most productive seasons. Now, don’t expect the 36-year-old to put up career numbers, but it’s noteworthy that he’s assuming a role that he’s thrived in.

Photographer: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire

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