The Atlanta Falcons continue to make moves in free agency and are paying particular attention to the defensive side of the ball.
6-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Calais Campbell is signing with the Falcons according to Ian Rapoport.
“Sources: The Falcons are making another splash, as former Ravens star Calais Campbell intends to sign a 1-year deal with them,” Rapoport reported on Twitter. “The Pro Bowler and former Walter Payton Man of the year will lend leadership to a young team he believes in. And Atlanta adds — again — on defense.”
Campbell will turn 37 on September 1st, but he hasn’t shown many signs of dropping off from his Pro Bowl form. He finished last season with the Ravens with 5.5 sacks and 36 tackles.
He was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the 15th best defensive tackle in the NFL with a 76.9 grade. For reference, Grady Jarrett was 30th with a 71.3.
Campbell joins free agent signing David Onyemata and recently un-retired Eddie Goldman as new faces on the Falcons’ defensive line for 2023. At 6’8 and 300 pounds, he brings inside/outside depth to the position, capable of playing end and sliding inside to tackle.
Campbell isn’t going to be the 14-sack man he was in Jacksonville when he finished second for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2017. But the he doesn’t have to be prime Campbell to help the Falcons improve on defense.
The Falcons finished 27th in total defense last season. With Jarrett, Campbell, Onyemata, and Goldman, Atlanta now has quality depth and size on the defensive front.
They’ve also signed linebacker Kaden Elliss who had seven sacks in 11 games with the Saints last year, and budding star Jessie Bates at safety.
The Falcons overachieved with seven wins each of the last-two seasons. General manager Terry Fontenot purged the team of crippling contracts including Matt Ryan and Julio Jones while using the NFL Draft to acquire offensive playmakers like Kyle Pitts and Drake London.
With money to spend for the first time in his tenure, the Falcons have addressed the defense in a big way, and they may not be done.
Atlanta still needs a dominant edge rusher and a cornerback opposite A.J. Terrell among other things. Tyree Wilson at edge and Christian Gonzalez at cornerback could be two players to watch.
They also used a top-30 visit on one of the more intriguing players in the draft. Defensive lineman Adetomiwa Adebawore measured in at the NFL Combine at 6’1 5/8″ and 282 pounds and ran a 4.48 forty.
We were able to get Wilson at No. 8 in our mock draft on the Falcons Podcast Monday. He might not be available, but the Falcons should be able to address edge or corner with the No. 8 pick in the draft with several good prospects available.
New defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen has to be happy with the resources being thrown his way this offseason… and there should be more coming.