Atlanta Falcons beat clear playoff teams landing Calais Campbell
By Nick Halden
When Calais Campbell left the Atlanta Falcons after his visit without a contract, scheduled to visit clear contenders there was concern that perhaps it wasn't to be. Atlanta's defensive line had already been clearly upgraded with the signing of David Onyemata and Eddie Goldman returning from retirement.
There was also the looming possibility of drafting Jalen Carter whose draft stock seems to be dipping in Atlanta's favor. While this still could be an option for the Falcons Atlanta fans were given the surprise news early Wednesday morning that despite visiting other clear contenders Campbell has chosen to sign with Atlanta.
This both speaks to what Fontenot is building and Campbell's belief in the core despite having what could be viewed as far more attractive landing spots.
Despite being a rotational veteran at this point in his career Calais is still a force and would have been Atlanta's second-leading pass rusher last season with 5.5 sacks. The group of Onyemata, Jarrett, Goldman, and Campbell gives Atlanta the best defensive line depth they have had in recent franchise history and will be an instant upgrade to the rush defense and the pass rush.
Campbell has 99.0 career sacks, 237 quarterback hits, 16 forced fumbles, and 165 tackles for loss. Atlanta is adding both a player with a long history of making an impact from a difficult position and a great leader to pair with Grady Jarrett in the locker room.
Clearly Fontenot and Smith have a plan in place, bringing in veterans they trust such as Campbell, Jessie Bates, and David Onyemata while continuing to search for bargain deals and add in players that fit their system.
Atlanta isn't simply reacting to finally having the ability to spend in free agency chasing any of the top players on the market. They are sticking to a carefully laid plan bringing in potential high-reward contracts with low risks only spending on players who are well established and will be clear leaders or assets to the locker room.
No move Fotenot is making is being made lightly in a wide-open division in a bad NFC Atlanta is aware that one great off-season will return this team to the playoffs.
Signing Campbell is a step in that direction and a much-needed veteran addition to a team that now looks to have one of the best defensive lines in the conference.