NFL free agency: Calais Campbell signs with Falcons, not Lions

As reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the star defensive lineman Calais Campbell has opted to sign a one-year deal with Atlanta Falcons.

On Tuesday, Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell confirmed the team is interested in signing Campbell in this free agency.

“Look, we turn the tape on, man, I tell you what, you’re talking about too much respect for a great man,” Campbell said. “Damn it. I keep looking at it, there’s no way he can feel better, that body can’t feel better. But he seems to be a force to be reckoned with. You put him in a closed end, you didn’t run there. Although he rushed for a 3-technique, on third down. Man, he’s got length, he’s got size, he’s even faster. We will see. We’re not the only ones on him.

While the Lions don’t have a lot of needs after the start of free agency, defensive tackle remains a position that could use an upgrade. The Lions re-signed Isaiah Bucks to a two-year deal, but general manager Brad Holmes openly acknowledged that his role in 2022 is too big and he’ll be more efficient if he’s in a more complementary role. With no real additions in the room this offseason, the Lions will need to sign or develop a big man inside if they want to improve the Bucs’ playing time.

Campbell would have been an interesting fit. While he’s 100 percent a culture guy—especially as a former Walter Payton Man of the Year winner—he turns 37 this season. Detroit could undoubtedly use more veteran leadership on the defensive side of the ball, and Campbell’s play was still at a high level last year, but this would have been a very short-term, temporary fix that required a long-term solution. However, if the Lions plan to make a deep run in 2023, Campbell would undoubtedly help.

But Campbell was a popular free agent. In addition to the Falcons and Lions, the Jets, Bills and Jaguars also pursued him.

Back to the drawing board.

Update: If you’re wondering why Campbell chose the Falcons over other teams that are clearly closer to contending for a championship, NFL Insider Josina Anderson has a quote from the man himself:

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