Despite a few tense moments that almost saw the terrific defensive lineman slip away, the Jacksonville Jaguars managed to sign Calais Campbell.
Fans were thrilled when reports came out on Wednesday, a full day before free agency officially started, that the Jacksonville Jaguars were going to sign Calais Campbell. Usually reports coming out so early are definitive, but things got a little murky on Thursday when news came out of the Denver Broncos making a push for the Pro Bowl defensive end.
The Jaguars upped their offer and ended the bidding war, but it still became more stressful than anyone would like.
So far, grades are lukewarm on the signing of a defender on the wrong side of 30.
SB Nation gives the Jaguars a B for the signing, noting that things should be better under a decent head coach:
"More from Jacksonville Jaguars NewsJacksonville Jaguars TE Evan Engram officially gets the franchise tag: 3 takeawaysJaguars News: The offense is in good shape for 2023NFL officially reinstates Jacksonville Jaguars WR Calvin Ridley: 3 immediate takeawaysDerek Carr immediately makes Jaguars vs. Saints 2023 away game Must-Watch TVJacksonville Jaguars fortify secondary in 4-round 2023 Post-Combine NFL Mock DraftJacksonville won the offseason championship last year. The Jags are off to another strong start this year, and they won’t have Gus Bradley coaching the team, which should do wonders.Campbell was one of the better defensive linemen on the market this year. He’s a great addition to the Jaguars’ already loaded defensive line. Sure, he’ll be coming from a 3-4 to a 4-3, but he can play all over the line and should transcend the scheme. He’s a great addition, but almost feels like more of a luxury than a pure need for the Jags. I’d be more pumped as a fan than as an armchair general manager.Grade: B"
Bill Barnwell over at ESPN has mostly nice things to say (after rightfully bashing general manager David Caldwell‘s free agent misses), but he finds it surprising that the Jaguars are investing in an older player.
"DL Calais Campbell, JaguarsGrade: B-With prior free-agent blunders such as Julius Thomas and Jared Odrick leaving town, the Jags can afford to go after top-tier talent to build upon a defense that was much improved last season, jumping from 26th to 13th in DVOA.Campbell is unquestionably a great player, and it isn’t out of the question for Jacksonville to give him $15 million per year. Assuming this is structured like a typical Caldwell deal, his four-year, $60 million deal will pay out the $30 million in guarantees by the end of Year 2, allowing the Jags to move on if Campbell fails to live up to his level of play in Arizona.The fit will be interesting. The most obvious role for Campbell along the Jacksonville defensive line would be the role given to Malik Jackson a season ago, where he alternated between playing as a three-technique and a five-technique on the interior. Campbell is one of a few defensive linemen in the league capable of doing both, and he might also get reps at defensive end across from Yannick Ngakoue and the frustrating Dante Fowler Jr. It’s a little surprising to see the Jaguars target a player who will turn 31 on Sept. 1, but for Caldwell, the time to win is now."
Pro Football Focus also likes the signing, but not quite as much as they liked the Bouye and Church deals:
"DI Calais Campbell to Jacksonville JaguarsActual deal: Four years, $60 million, $30 guaranteedPFF play-earned contract: Four years, $72.9 million, $35.6 million guaranteedGrade: BCalais Campbell may be 30 years old, but he is coming off the best season of his career, trailing only Aaron Donald in PFF grade among interior defensive linemen in 2016, with a mark of 90.4. Campbell notched 44 total QB pressures, a batted pass, and 41 defensive stops for the Cardinals, and should help form a formidable defensive front in Jacksonville."
I give this signing a solid B as well, if only because the Jaguars are adding a much needed veteran leader who still has enough left in the tank to contribute. The fit is a little bit curious, but I can see Campbell playing both inside and outside depending on the down and formation. The contract is almost certainly structured in the same “2-year” format we’ve seen before from the Jaguars, so it’s still relatively low risk.