Falcons Sign DL Calais Campbell

MARCH 31: The Falcons will give the 16th-year veteran $7MM fully guaranteed, Rapoport tweets. This deal can max out at $9MM through incentives. Although Campbell is going into his age-37 season, he will receive more to sign compared to what the Ravens gave him in 2022. Baltimore’s most recent Campbell pact was a two-year, $12MM deal that featured $6MM guaranteed.

MARCH 29: Following his Falcons meeting, Calais Campbell engaged in discussions with other teams. But the veteran defensive lineman will end up in Atlanta. The Falcons agreed to terms with Campbell on a one-year deal Wednesday morning, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter).

The Ravens made Campbell a cap casualty ahead of free agency, and while the sides did not rule out a return at a reduced rate, the 15-year veteran generated interest from the Bills, Jets and Jaguars. Despite those teams’ 2023 contention prospects appearing to outflank the Falcons’, Campbell agreed to join the retooling defense.

The former Walter Payton Man of the Year award winner spoke at length with Arthur Blank before making his decision, and Rapoport adds discussions regarding leadership and Campbell’s potential impact in the community played a significant role in his agreement with the team (Twitter link). The Jets made a strong offer, Campbell said (via CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson, on Twitter), but the accomplished pass rusher alluded to the off-field component of an Atlanta agreement — along with the on-field fit, naturally — as a factor that drove this agreement past the goal line.

This will be Campbell’s fourth NFL destination, coming after productive stints in Arizona, Jacksonville and Baltimore. On the field, the 6-foot-8 defender will team with Grady Jarrett and ex-Ryan Nielsen Saints charge David Onyemata. The Falcons have added a few pieces on defense since the legal tampering period began. Campbell joins Onyemata, Jessie Bates and Mike Hughes in agreeing to terms to aid a defense that ranked 27th last season. Longtime Bears starter Eddie Goldman is also back in the fold, preparing to make an attempt to come out of retirement.

Campbell, who will turn 37 before Week 1, started all 14 games be played for the Ravens last season. The interior D-line standout/kick-blocking specialist totaled 5.5 sacks and 14 quarterback hits in 2022. It will certainly be interesting to see how the Falcons use their talent influx up front in 2023. The team struggled to generate pressure last season, recording just 21 sacks. Jarrett contributed six of those.

For his career, Campbell is sitting on 99 sacks. He registered 14.5 of those with the Jaguars in 2017, helping to drive a rebuilding team to the Super Bowl LII precipice to complete one of the more impactful seasons by a defensive free agency addition. Campbell earned first-team All-Pro honors after his first Jaguars season, which ended in the AFC championship game. The ex-Cardinals second-round pick has continued to churn out quality seasons into his mid-30s. The Denver native has added three more Pro Bowl invites since leading the “Sacksonville” defense.

The Jets would have paired Campbell with Quinnen Williams inside. The team, which is gearing up for a potential Super Bowl push around expected trade acquisition Aaron Rodgers, has added some pieces — including ex-Ravens safety Chuck Clark — this offseason. But New York lost D-tackles Sheldon Rankins (Texans) and Nathan Shepherd (Saints). Solomon Thomas is back in the fold, however.

Campbell, who has never missed more than four games in a season, continuing his run of durability in Atlanta would move him further into rarefied air among defensive linemen. His 208 career starts are tied with Rams icon Merlin Olsen for eighth-most by a D-lineman in NFL history. By starting nine more games, Campbell can climb into the top five in league annals at the position. He can pass Olsen, fellow Hall of Famers Alan Page and Carl Eller, along with Justin Smith and Kevin Carter, by making 12 starts in 2023.

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