The Jacksonville Jaguars added plenty of young defensive talent last offseason, but it didn’t translate into wins under former head coach Gus Bradley. This year, the team’s flashiest free agency acquisition, defensive end Calais Campbell, says the talent on defense was why he chose the Jaguars.
“I feel like the rest of the world doesn’t see Jacksonville the way I do,” Campbell told The MMQB’s Robert Klemko. “I think Jacksonville’s close.”
The Jaguars spent nearly $180 million in free agency in 2016, bringing in top targets like Malik Jackson and Tashaun Gipson. The draft was focused on building the defense, with all but one pick — a sixth-rounder spent on quarterback Brandon Allen — put toward the defense. The team still struggled.
The Jaguars finished the season 3-13, but lost eight games by one score or less. Campbell said the talented young defenders in Jacksonville — like cornerback Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Myles Jack, the team’s top two picks in 2016 — just need someone like him to help lead the way.
“Oh, wow, this is a team that could really use a guy like me, an older vet who’s been to the playoffs, been to the Super Bowl,” Campbell said.
Campbell, 30, spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Arizona Cardinals. He went to Super Bowl XLIII with them following his rookie season in 2008, when Arizona lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Cardinals made the postseason four times during Campbell’s time in Arizona.
Despite considering an offer from the Broncos, Campbell was so confident that Jacksonville was the right landing spot that he didn’t even need to talk to executive vice president Tom Coughlin or new head coach Doug Marrone before making his decision.
With the additions of Campbell and cornerback A.J. Bouye, the Jaguars’ defense looks even better on paper, and maybe it can even finally start living up to its promise.