Calais Campbell’s decision to sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars raised some eyebrows around the league. The veteran defensive lineman had been part of some quality Arizona Cardinals teams and in advance of his age-31 season was defecting to a franchise that went 4-12 in 2016.
The 10th-year player, though, is stepping onto a defense that ranked sixth last season. And that unit should be improved in 2017 after adding Campbell, A.J. Bouye and Barry Church as starters. The Jags came into the offseason with their usual warchest of salary cap space, but past free-agency additions haven’t produced a winning team yet. Nevertheless, Campbell sees the pieces in place.
“I knew there was a lot of talent here, but I was surprised how talented these guys were,” he told the team’s website. “I truly believe this team has every piece to the puzzle. We don’t need anything else.”
Campbell had a good reason to believe the Jags defense is ready to win now. The high-priced hired guns join the likes of Malik Jackson, Telvin Smith and Jalen Ramsey. And the four-year, $60-million contract provided a good reason to believe in the Jags as well despite their woeful sojourn through the 2010s.
The biggest leap of faith Campbell is taking with his comments obviously points to Blake Bortles.
The fourth-year quarterback regressed badly last season and has not shown anything close to what fellow 2014 draftee Derek Carr has. Many believed new executive vice president Tom Coughlin was ready to move on from him already. Bortles now has Leonard Fournette as part of an offense that still houses Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, but the former No. 3 overall pick’s play will determine if Campbell’s vision is legitimate or just offseason puff-piece fodder.