The hopes of New York Jets fans were crushed when they woke up on Wednesday, March 29.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport shared on Twitter that veteran defensive lineman Calais Campbell “intends to sign” a one-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons.
The 36-year-old was set to fly to New Jersey on Wednesday and visit with the team on Thursday, March 30. That visit never transpired because the Dirty Birds were able to close the deal before he got on that plane.
Rapoport said Campbell had a “40-minute phone call” with Atlanta owner Arthur Blank about a variety of non-football-related topics and that helped “seal” the deal.
Jets Were This Close to Landing Calais Campbell
Rapoport revealed on NFL Now that the expectation was Campbell was going to fly to New York to sign a deal with Gang Green before things changed seemingly last second.
“This is interesting because I know a lot of people that we talked to during these league meetings over the last couple of days assumed that Calais Campbell would just visit the Jets today and probably sign there. Instead, it is the Atlanta Falcons.”
NFL Insider Josina Anderson of CBS Sports said she received a text from Campbell and shared it on social media:
“The Jets made a strong offer as well. It really came down to where I felt like I could have the biggest impact both on and off the field.”
Both head coach Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas were upfront about the team’s interest in Campbell when they spoke to the media at the NFL’s league meetings.
The Silver Lining of Missing out on Calais Campbell
Campbell would have been a wonderful addition to the Jets’ defense.
The green and white have lost some key interior defensive line depth with Nathan Shepherd and Sheldon Rankins off the roster. He would have plugged right in next to Quinnen Williams in the middle of the Jets’ defense.
The Jets Zone on Twitter compared Campbell’s potential impact to that of veteran big man Kris Jenkins. He was on the Jets roster from 2008 through 2010 and proved to be a key glue guy for those teams.
However, the reality is he won’t be on the Jets next season.
The good news is this isn’t a massive loss for the team. Campbell is 36 years of age and was set to turn 37 before the start of the 2023 season. At this stage of his career, he’d be a rotational piece on the defensive line.
The other bit of good news is his location. Campbell signed with an NFC bottom dweller but there was interest from teams that could have caused the Jets issues like the Buffalo Bills.
On top of all of that last season the Jets were a top-five defensive unit in football. Obviously, that was without Campbell’s services and they still found success.
Gang Green has done a really good job of retaining its defensive talent outside of the depth lost on the IDL. That was the goal from head coach Robert Saleh at the beginning of the offseason and it has played out that way so far.