With over $60 million in cap space, the Falcons will be targeting several marquee free agents this offseason. As the legal tampering period begins, Atlanta is likely mulling a number of targets. And Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report believes Marcus Davenport is the club’s dream signing.
The Atlanta Falcons were downright nice to quarterbacks last season. Opposing passers could leisurely scan the defense without a worry they would feel rushed by the Falcons group up front.
Grady Jarrett was still productive on the interior. He had six of the team’s 21 sacks and was responsible for more than his fair share of the team’s 14.6 pressure percentage.
It pretty much forced the Falcons to move on from defensive coordinator Dean Pees. Former New Orleans Saints defensive line coach and assistant defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen has taken Pees’ place.
A good first step would be for him to bring Marcus Davenport with him. The 26-year-old is an elite athlete, but it still feels like he hasn’t reached his maximum potential as he has dealt with injuries throughout his time in the league.
Still, the defensive end has the 16th-highest run defense grade from PFF since he entered the league. He only ended up with a half-sack with the Saints last season, but he had a pressure percentage of 13.3 percent, per Sports Info Solutions.
In other words, he got to the quarterback about as often as the entire Falcons’ defensive line last season, even if his sack total doesn’t show it.
The Falcons will add to the defensive front, and Marcus Davenport is certainly a possibility, given his ties to the current Falcons defensive coordinator and former Saints co-defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen.
Davenport has dealt with injuries his entire career, which makes projecting his contract difficult, but the talent is undeniable. He is effective as a defender against the pass and run; the former first-rounder is probably a top-20 player at his position when healthy because of that well-rounded skill set.
The problem is that he hasn’t logged 600 snaps in a single season. He appeared in a career-high 15 contests this past season but only played 50% of the defensive snaps. Still, when he’s healthy, Davenport is impactful. Per PFF, “his 17.8% pass-rush win rate and 13.9% pressure percentage are both top-20 marks among edge defenders since he entered the league in 2018.”
The Falcons are in the market for a player like Davenport, but a lot of fans would be disappointed if he was the gem of the free agent haul. By no means should Marcus Davenport be considered the ‘dream’ free agent signing.
Depending on where you look, the contract projections are more than palatable, or they are stomach-turning. Spotrac has his market value at $93 million over four years, which is $23.2 million per year. Now, that’s a fair price if he’d been healthy and potentially even a bargain if he played every game. That just hasn’t been the case, though. Investing nearly $100 million in a player that hasn’t proven he can stay healthy isn’t wise, and it’s even more foolish for a rebuilding team.
The Falcons need someone who is available more than anything — the best ability is availability.
Photographer: Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire
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