Earlier this year the Jaguars made Calais Campbell one of the most well compensated defenders in the game, signing the then 30 year old free agent to a four year deal worth $60 million.
Despite being over the age of 30 expectations were high for Campbell, who had been one of the most consistent defensive players of the last decade in Arizona. What I believed the Jaguars were getting when they signed Campbell was a versatile player that excelled on special teams, in run defense, and was a better than average pass rusher.
He has been so, so much more than that.
Campbell has been the heart and soul of the Jaguars defense since day one. He's always there to pick up a teammate that might be down or to encourage someone that's already performing well to strive for even more. He is the foundation in which the Jaguars dominant "Sacksonville" defense has been built upon. He's far exceeded expectations as a leader, but even more important has been his play on the field.
12.5 sacks in just 12 games for the Jaguars. That's what Calais Campbell has brought to this defense. After taking down Jacoby Brissett on Sunday Campbell became the Jaguars record holder for sacks in a single season, surpassing Jaguars great Tony Brackens. Of course, he's also been a dominant defender against the run and has shown the ability to play effectively at multiple spots along the defensive line.
All of this begs the question: Is Calais Campbell already the best Jaguars free agent signing of all time?
Some might say the question is premature, but this a guy that has led the best Jaguars defense of all time AND is already engrained in the team's record books.
He's certainly had the most dominant first season of all time by a Jaguars defender, but he needs to have sustained success over the next few seasons in order to overtake some of the Jaguars best free agents of all time.
In my book - after just 12 games Campbell is already the third best free agent signing the team has ever made, and is on the fast track to earning the number one spot.
For me, he trails just Keenan McCardell and Leon Searcy.
McCardell was an unheralded singing but ended up second on the Jaguars all time receiving list and was an integral part of the Jaguars runs to the AFC Championship '96 and '99.
Searcy was equally impressive and manned the right side of the Jaguars offensive line during the team's heyday. From 1995 to 1999 Searcy and Tony Boselli formed the best offensive tackle combo in football and helped the Jaguars rise from an expansion team to a true contender.
There's a host of other players that have done well for the Jaguars after being signed as free agents. Mike Peterson and Paul Posluszny are two of the best linebackers that have ever played for the team - but neither had the dominant type of impact that Calais has had in 2017. His current teammate, AJ Bouye, is also having a remarkable season for the Jaguars. He's tied for the team lead in interceptions with four and combines Jalen Ramsey to form the most feared cornerback tandem in football.
So, what do you think? Am I crazy for thinking Campbell is already one of the top three free agent signings the Jaguars have ever made? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
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