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Falcons LB De’Vondre Campbell speaks about heading into contract year

The team’s strongside linebacker will be a free agent in 2020.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to believe, but we’re entering the contract years of the Atlanta Falcons’ illustrious 2016 draft class.

The fiery rookie group who helped propel the team to an NFC Championship will all need new contracts here soon, with only safety Keanu Neal locked in for 2020 on the fifth-year option.

The team has had preliminary talks with elite linebacker Deion Jones on a new contract, but what about De’Vondre Campbell?

The team’s strongside linebacker spoke with the St. Paul Pioneer Press about his pending contract season.

Campbell is arguably the most underrated and under-appreciated member of the Falcons defense (if not the team). He’s as stout in coverage as you’d hope, and he plays the run better than most at the position.

He also had to assume the veteran’s role in the linebacking core last season when Debo went down to keep that unit afloat. You just don’t find players like Campbell in the fourth round every day; he’s been an absolute steal for the team and, in an ideal world, would get handsomely paid to play for the Falcons for years to come.

Whether the team can afford to keep him at the price he deserves will be another story. Jones, Neal and Austin Hooper will all need new contracts in the immediate future, and the team still needs to get Grady Jarrett’s deal done and extend Julio Jones.

Vic Beasley, Matt Bosher and Jack Crawford will also be up for discussion as free agents in March 2020. Truth be told, it’s not going to be possible to keep all of these names around.

Campbell will no doubt be seeking an uptick in his play to be at his best in a year when he’s playing for his second contract; the better he is, the harder it will be for the Falcons to say goodbye. He deserves to be paid among the best strongside linebackers in the league, though it’ll just be a waiting game to see if the Falcons will be able to meet that.

We’re excited to see how Campbell does this year, though we’re aware this might be his last in a Falcons uniform should his potential deal get out of the team’s reach. He’s earned the right to create that kind of situation.