Falcons Lose Starting Linebacker in Free Agency

De'Vondre Campbell

getty De'Vondre Campbell #59 of the Atlanta Falcons.

The Falcons have another gap to fill on the roster. Last month, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff gave their starting linebacker De’Vondre Campbell the option to test out free agency. Campbell signed a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday.

Campell is one of three who were allowed to test the market with hopes of all of them staying in Atlanta. Austin Hooper was quickly snagged by the Browns the day before free agency even started and Wes Schweitzer was picked up by the Redskins.

Campbell’s Time in Atlanta

Letting Campbell check out the free agency market was a way to give him chances with other suitors but also stay in Atlanta if he wanted.

From Minnesota, the Falcons selected Campbell in the fourth round (115th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft. Through four seasons, Campbell has started in a total of 59 games, five of those being playoff games and has only continued to improve since being selected. He led the team in tackles during 2018 with 94 tackles and again this past season finishing with 129 tackles. In addition, Campbell finished the 2019 season strong with two sacks, two QB hits, six tackles for losses, one fumble recovery and three forced fumbles.

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No Suprise Here

Campbell decided to leave Atlanta doesn’t come at a big surprise since anywhere else was guaranteed to give him more money than the Falcons could afford. The Falcons picked up Dante Fowler to a three-year contract that cost them a lot of their cap space, leaving Campbell in the dust.

Campbell is indeed in good hands with the Cardinals. Their defense gave up the most total yards in the NFL last year, but they’re looking for more depth in their defense. Campbell is a good addition to them. They’ll win a lot more games this year considering their offense just got a little scarier trading for wideout DeAndre Hopkins. Not to mention they have a secret speed demon at running back, Andy Isabella.

Campbell outdid his fourth-round draft status with the Falcons for four seasons. He was consistent most of the time and only produced a positive outcome for the Falcons but that doesn’t mean they won’t find someone to replace him. It just means it’s another hole they have to worry about in free agency, trade or come draft day.

GM Confident in Backup

With or without Campbell, the Falcons have high hopes in backup linebacker Foye Oluokon.

“We really like Foye’s overall ability and his overall package,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff told AtlantaFalcons.com. “His smarts, of course; he’s a very smart football player. He leads in his own, I think it’s an impressive way. He’s versatile as well, and he has the ability to be a starter in this league and play for us and be a starter for us.”

A former sixth-round pick, Foye has shown that he’s worthy through his first two seasons as a Falcon. During his rookie year in 2018, Oluokun finished second on the team with 89 tackles after starter Deion Jones was injured.

Oluokun has also proven his ability to carry opposing tight ends downfield. He doesn’t have the kind of size Campbell possesses, but he does have a lot of speed has proven to be a reliable tackler, exactly what the Falcons need on defense.

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