OFFICIAL: Calais Campbell signs with Jaguars

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JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars just keep getting defensive.

The Jaguars on Friday afternoon made their fourth signing of the 2017 free-agency period official – and once again, the signing was a defensive player.

Calais Campbell, a defensive end from the Arizona Cardinals, signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Jaguars Friday afternoon at EverBank Field. The NFL's 2017 league year and official beginning of 2017 free agency began Thursday at 4 p.m.

"It wasn't a hard decision in the end," Campbell said. "I just trusted my gut and I'm happy to be a Jaguar."

Campbell (6-feet-8, 300 pounds), 30, a 10-year veteran who originally was a second-round selection by the Cardinals in the 2008 NFL Draft, started 16 games for Arizona this past season. He was a Pro Bowl selection following the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

Campbell called the 48 hours of negotiating leading to Friday "intense."

"It was fun to go through the process," Campbell said, adding that the presence of former Jaguars Head Coach Tom Coughlin as the team's executive vice president of football operations influenced his decision.

 "The main thing we all like about him is he's won," Campbell said of Coughlin, who coached the Jaguars to AFC Championship Game appearances in 1996 and 1999 before coaching the New York Giants to Super Bowl titles following the 2007 and 2011 seasons. "He's won plenty of times before.  ..."

Campbell, who played collegiately at Miami (Fla.), could replace Jared Odrick/Tyson Alualu at the Jaguars' strong-side defensive end position. Odrick was released last month after missing 10 games with injuries last season and Alualu – a first-round selection by the Jaguars in 2010 who started 10 games last season – became an unrestricted free agent Thursday at 4 p.m.

Campbell, who has missed just six games with injuries in his NFL career, has started all 16 games each of the last two seasons and was a full-time starter in Arizona since his second season. He has 56.5 career sacks, including a career-high nine in 2013 and eight this past season.

He has had at least five sacks every season since his second season.

Campbell also has 492 career tackles, including 107 tackles for loss, with 42 passes defensed, three interceptions, eight forced fumbles and eight fumble recoveries.

The Jaguars' likely starting defensive line now looks like: Yannick Ngakoue or Dante Fowler Jr. at pass-rushing/weak defensive end, Abry Jones or Roy Miller at nose tackle, Malik Jackson at defensive tackle and Campbell at strong-side end.

Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said Friday Jackson and Campbell could play relatively similar roles, with both having the ability to play three-technique defensive tackle and big end.

"He's a big reason why I chose to come here," Campbell said of Jackson. "I feel like me and him together, we can do a lot of big things."

Campbell said he expects to play end on first and second downs and rush from the interior in passing situations.
"It should be a good time; I'm looking forward to it," Campbell said. "I'm a football player: tell me what you want me to do and I'll do it the best way I know how."

The Jaguars on Friday also officially signed defensive end Lerentee McCray, cornerback A.J. Bouye and safety Barry Church. McCray previously had been with Buffalo, Bouye had been with Houston and Church had been with Dallas.

The signings of McCray, Bouye, Church and Campbell came less than a day after the Jaguars' first major 2017 acquisition became official, with left tackle Branden Albert officially coming to the Jaguars in a trade from the Miami Dolphins on Thursday afternoon.

Albert, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, was acquired for the Jaguars' seventh-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. The team also finalized a trade sending tight end Julius Thomas to Miami for a 2017 seventh-round draft selection Thursday afternoon.

The Jaguars also released defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks Thursday and announced they had re-signed wide receiver Bryan Walters. They had announced the release of cornerback Davon House and Odrick in recent weeks.

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