We’ve continuously talked about how the Falcons will have to do some maneuvering around the cap, and a handful of players will be playing elsewhere next season. The team has already announced Vic Beasley will not be retained, and Austin Hooper is set to fetch a massive long-term extension. Whether that will be with the Falcons or elsewhere is yet to be determined.
However, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated has strong words surrounding the future of linebacker De’Vondre Campbell. He believes it is “impossible” that the Falcons will be able to retain him because the linebacker is in line for a big payday.
“The 26-year-old was an integral part of a Super Bowl defense in 2016, playing the K.J. Wright role in Atlanta’s Seattle scheme. Campbell’s been overshadowed by draft classmate Deion Jones over the last four years, but he’s been steady, and he finished 2019 with a career-high 129 tackles. The Falcons’ cap situation will make it impossible for them to bring him back, which could be someone else’s gain.”
Negotiations with any of the Falcons’ pending free agents are bound to be tough this offseason. Campbell very well could walk, but according to Vaughn McClure of ESPN, there has at least been dialogue between both parties:
There have been preliminary talks between the Falcons and LB De’Vondre Campbell’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, as Campbell approaches free agency. “There will be a lot of interest in Dre,” Rosenhaus told ESPN. “We have had positive dialogue with the Falcons. Dre will be a highly sought-after player.” Campbell, who said he doesn’t want to uproot but understands the business, led the Falcons in tackles (129) in 2019.
Campbell is a great run stopper who the Falcons would love to retain, but I’d imagine other teams with more cap space will outbid Atlanta for his services. If the Falcons believe Foyesade Oluokun is ready to take the reigns, they likely won’t be allocating big dollars. Atlanta might also take a linebacker early in the draft, and Alex Lord has already talked about some free-agent options they could explore. Whether or not traction would pick up in a scenario where Austin Hooper is set to sign elsewhere is something to consider, but there is a chance the Falcons lose both, potentially setting them up with some high compensatory picks in 2021 but leaving them with a ton of holes to patch this summer.