The Jacksonville Jaguars will see a familiar face in Calais Campbell when they play the Atlanta Falcons in Week 4. This wouldn't have been possible if they had signed him in the offseason. Looking back, this might have been the best move for both parties.
Campbell met with the Jags in the offseason but wasn't promised a starting role. Instead, general manager Trent Baalke wanted him to fill more of a leadership role, per Tyler Dunne of Go Long. This led the player affectionately known as The Mayor to sign a one-year deal worth $7 million with the Falcons.
"Campbell didn’t get the sense that GM Trent Baalke really wanted him. He appreciated Baalke’s honesty — the last thing any NFL player wants is a bait-and-switch — but the GM told Campbell straight-up that he’d play a secondary role on this young D-Line. Serve as more of a vocal leader."
Campbell has made three starts for the Falcons and appeared in 64 percent of their defensive snaps this season. He's logged two total pressures and no sacks. A second-round pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2009, he signed with the Jags in 2017 and went on to become a mainstay of their defensive front, registering 31 sacks and six forced fumble during a three-year span.
Although Campbell had a massive impact both on and off the field for Jacksonville, he was traded to the Baltimore Ravens in 2020 to free up cap space. That was one of the many baffling decisions that cost former general manager Dave Caldwell his job.
Signing Calais Campbell wouldn't have helped the Jaguars much
General manager Trent Baalke has recently gotten considerable flak for not doing nearly enough to bolster the pass rush this offseason. That said, bringing back Calais Campbell wasn't necessarily a bad decision. There's most definitely merit in bringing a veteran player to become a locker-room presence and the Mayor's leadership skills aren't quantifiable.
That said, the Jags wouldn't have gotten much on-field production from Campbell and that's what their pass rush is missing. Right now, outside linebacker Josh Allen has four sacks this year but there's not much depth behind him. Sophomore Travon Walker, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 draft, had a promising start to the season but hasn't been much of a factor the last two games. The same is true for K'Lavon Chaisson, who had a sack against the Kansas City Chiefs but has otherwise been a non-factor.
At this stage of his career, Campbell wouldn't have added the boost to the Jaguars' pass rush, so Baalke shouldn't be criticized for passing on the chance to sign him. On the other hand, he could've brought in Jadeveon Clowney or inked someone like Frank Clark and he does deserve criticism for not pursuing them. Instead, Jacksonville rolled with the group they had in the fold. So far, the decision hasn't paid off and has hurt the defensive front.
There's no denying that Campbell had a huge role for the Jaguars in the late 2010s. Also, letting him go without a doubt was a bad decision. However, signing him this past offseason wouldn't have been wise and Jacksonville can prove it when they face him in Week 4.