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Grady Jarrett expects Falcons to be 'really strong defensive team' in 2023 

Have the Atlanta Falcons solved the defensive issues that have lingered for years?

The club hired new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen and added a host of new faces this offseason, including the big-money signing of safety Jessie Bates, swiping David Onyemata and Kaden Elliss from rival New Orleans, adding six-time Pro Bowler Calais Campbell and trading for former No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah on Tuesday.

The additions have longtime stalwart Grady Jarrett believing a turnaround could be swift.

"I envision this team being a really strong defensive team," Jarrett said Tuesday, via the team's official website. "At the core, I think we're going to be really strong up front on the offense and defensive line, so I think that's really going to drive us forward."

The Falcons haven't ranked in the top 18 in points or yards allowed once in the past five seasons. In the past decade, Atlanta has finished the season in the top 10 in points and yards allowed once (2017).

It's not the first time the Falcons have thrown money at the situation only to see the plan crash and burn. But the hope is that the type of veterans added will make it different this time.

"To have a guy like David Onyemata come in is going to be great," Jarrett said. "To have a leader like Calais Campbell come in is going to be crazy. It's almost like reminiscing of when we had Dwight Freeney come in my second year. When you get a legend of the game to come in, because Calais is that, it just raises the bar for everybody."

The Campbell signing is the one that turned heads this offseason -- given the veteran's options, he could have inked with a clearer contender but chose Atlanta to chase his elusive ring. Plus, Tuesday's trade for Okudah gives the Falcons a flier for cheap who could be an excellent pairing with A.J. Terrell on the back end.

The Falcons aren't done adding to the defense with the 2023 NFL Draft coming in 15 days, but the foundation has been laid for Atlanta to improve on that side of the ball, finally.

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