Falcons: 2021 Free agents to avoid – Front 7

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There are too many articles about who the media thinks the Falcons should sign. In reality, this offseason will be a frugal one. Terry Fontneont has already made it apparent that if they want to compete immediately, Atlanta will have to hit on the later draft picks and lower-cost free agents. Some players could provide great value in a saturated free agency class like Duron Harmon, Jamaal Williams, Tyus Bowser, Mike Hilton, or Anthony Firkser, but others will get overpaid for their services.

*All contract projections are via PFF. If you want to read any of our previous editions, you can find those here:

Defensive line

Jadeveon Clowney (one year, $13 million)

Yannick Ngakoue (four years, $70 million)

Leonard Floyd (three years, $40 million)

Justin Houston (two years, $18 million)

Tyson Alualu (one year, $6 million)

The Falcons will be looking for value in free agency, and a few of these names are the exact opposite of that. In 2020, Clowney suited up for eight games, logging zero sacks, 19 tackles, four for loss, and four pass breakups. He landed on injured reserve in November with a knee injury.

Ngakoue was traded from Jacksonville to Minnesota for a second-round pick, then was moved again to Baltimore. He was continually shipped off for obvious reasons; if he were a perennial #1 pass rusher, those three teams wouldn’t have traded the former Mayland Terp. Likely commanding retail compensation in free agency, Ngakoue will be costly and doesn’t fit in Dean Pees’ defensive system — similarly struggling in the Ravens’ 3-4 defense.

Floyd has always been a #2 pass rusher and shouldn’t garner #1 money, but EDGE is such a premium position that some team will overpay — hopefully, not the Falcons, though. Houston could provide great leadership for what will be an extremely young defense, but for $9 million per year, Fontenot can find a cheaper veteran presence that could have similar production as the former Georgia Bulldog has lost the power and burst that once made him one of the most feared pass rushers in the game. Alualu had two good years, but when does a player peak in his thirties and continue to ascend? It is sporadic, and I would say he is going to show that this year.

Off-ball linebackers

Kevin Pierre-Louis (one year, $2 million)

Denzel Perryman (two years, $13 million)

Eric Wilson (two years, $6 million)

Atlanta doesn’t have to bring in any off-ball linebackers with Deion Jones, Foyesade Oluokun, and Mykal Walker on the roster, but there could be an angle where Fontneot brings in a cheap, depth piece. These players are not that. Kevin Pierre-Louis is great in coverage — an area the Falcons linebackers already thrive in — but is a complete liability when defending the run. Denzel Perryman is the exact opposite, which is more of a traditional 90’s thumper. He did have the best season of his career but is far too expensive for a depth piece. Wilson could have a spot in Atlanta, but like Pierre-Louis, he struggles defending against the run, making him potentially unappealing to Dean Pees.

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