The first week of NFL free agency is in the books, but speculation is still rampant around the league — as well as the New York Jets community.
Right now, the assumption is that the Jets will eventually trade for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, although no one knows for sure what the deal might cost. It goes without saying that landing a four-time MVP signal-caller would dramatically change the 2023 outlook of this franchise, and it might also alter which veterans are interested in joining Gang Green.
For example, a 36-year-old veteran like defensive tackle Calais Campbell — who’s never won a Super Bowl ring —might be more interested in New York if Rodgers is the quarterback. The six-time Pro Bowler and one-time first-team All-Pro has become a popular fan target on social media in recent weeks, considering the Jets need a D-tackle and Campbell fits the mold.
As the speculation ramped up between the Green & White and the former PFWA Defensive Player of the Year in 2017, Campbell threw some gasoline on the fire when he was caught liking an official NYJ tweet that wide receiver Allen Lazard had signed with the Jets. Michael Nania of Jets X-Factor shared the screenshot of the intriguing social media interaction.
That reveal from Nania has over 1.1K likes in less than 24 hours.
Calais Campbell Is Exactly What Joe Douglas & Robert Saleh Have Targeted in the Past
Campbell has 99 sacks on his career according to Pro Football Reference, with a season-high of 14.5 in 2017. That year, he was the AFC sack king as the Jacksonville Jaguars turned into “Sacksonville” and made an unlikely run at a Super Bowl appearance.
Unfortunately, they fell just short after a heartbreaking collapse versus the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship. You know who else was a part of that Jaguars team? Jets new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
Head coach Robert Saleh was also with Jacksonville the season before in 2016, but Campbell only joined the Jags in 2017.
Of course, the Jets could also use a competent starter next to Quinnen Williams with Sheldon Rankins leaving in free agency. Gang Green did retain backup Solomon Thomas at the position, but they have not made many other moves at D-tackle this offseason.
There are more than just coaching ties and positional needs linking Campbell to the Jets, however, the veteran fits the culture that general manager Joe Douglas and Saleh have been attempting to build over the past few years.
The 15-year NFL pro won the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in February of 2020 for his work outside the league in different communities around the country. He’s a model athlete, as well as a model teammate, and would be a welcomed addition to the Jets locker room.
Saleh’s rotational style might work best for an older player like Campbell too, considering his stamina is probably not what it used to be. He doesn’t need to be THE guy in New York alongside Williams, he just needs to do his job and help lock down the interior.
The Feeling Is Mutual Between Jets & Calais Campbell
A couple of Jets players also liked a tweet from Heavy on Jets’ very own Paul Esden Jr. He wrote: “2 free agents I’d like to see the Jets aggressively pursue: DL Calais Campbell, DB C.J. Gardner-Johnson. NYJ needs some more BEEF on the DL (great leader) & CGJ could make New York’s secondary the best in the NFL baby!”
If you scroll through the 1.1K likes on this suggestion from Mr. Boy Green, you’ll notice that both wide receiver Garrett Wilson and special teamer Justin Hardee Sr. can be found on the list.
Clearly, the feeling is mutual between Campbell and different members of the NYJ organization.