The Falcons completely overhauled their roster, specifically the defensive side of the ball. Armed with a mountain of cap space, Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith added a number of free agents, traded for a pair of veterans, and dramatically improved the roster. This continues my series of exploring what each offseason acquisition brings to the Falcons, moving on to the free agent signing that was the biggest surprise.
Check out any of the other parts of the series if you’ve missed them!
Nobody saw the future Hall of Famer choosing Atlanta as a free-agent destination over Buffalo, Baltimore, New York, and other Super Bowl contenders. It threw the entire NFL world for a loop.
Campbell is in the twilight years of his career, so everyone, myself included, assumed he would be ring chasing — the only accolade missing from his sterling resumé. The Falcons improved tremendously this offseason, but nobody outside of Flowery Branch expects this team to challenge for a Lombardi Trophy.
That didn’t sway Campbell, who elaborated on the recruiting process. One portion of the pitch? The former All-Pro revealed he sat down with Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot to watch film on Desmond Ridder, coming away impressed and seeing the vision. It was a shocking revelation, even for Falcons fans that believe in Ridder.
Campbell is as well-rounded of a defensive lineman as any in this league and will give the Falcons a great mentor for some young defenders. Nobody stands to benefit more from Campbell — along with Grady Jarrett and David Onyemata — than Ta’Quon Graham and Zach Harrison. I’m sure Campbell has forgotten more about football than the pair has learned thus far. He will be an invaluable resource for the green defenders.
Moreover, Campbell will bring just as much value on the field for the Falcons. Another selling point was the ability to assume a more traditional defensive end role, one that he thrived in with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where his most productive years came, piling up 14.5, 10.5, and 6.5 sacks over those three years.
Calais Campbell will give the Falcons size on early downs to stop the run with a lighter box and the pass rush chops to pressure quarterbacks on passing downs. He’s the total package, with the intangibles to go along with some Hall of Fame tangibles. Even though he’s 36 years old, he’s still got some gas left in the tank, evident in his 2022 campaign, which netted 5.5 sacks.
The signing will prove to be one of the most fruitful in Falcons’ history, even if it is a one-year deal.
Photographer: Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire