We are closing in on the start of NFL free agency, and the Falcons will surely be active in the market, given their multitude of needs across the roster. Atlanta’s salary cap situation isn’t as bad as last offseason, but Terry Fontenot will undoubtedly be acting with one hand tied behind his back in free agency.
The Falcons have needs on both sides of the trenches, at wide receiver, cornerback, and more. Arjun Menon of Pro Football Focus predicts the Falcons shell out some serious capital to bring in a premier edge rusher and cornerback but lose out on Cordarrelle Patterson.
Wrote about the top 50 free agents on our big board and did my best to predict where they might land this offseason for @PFF.
Spoiler alert: these predictions are 100% correcthttps://t.co/008FTBY1uK
— Arjun Menon (@arjunmenon100) February 21, 2022
33. EDGE HAROLD LANDRY III, TENNESSEE TITANS
Prediction: Atlanta Falcons — Four years, $60 million ($32 million guaranteed)
In this scenario, Landry reunites with his former defensive coordinator Dean Pees in Atlanta and replaces Dante Fowler Jr.
Landry, by stats alone, had himself quite a year — 68 pressures, 12 sacks and 13 QB hits. It is still important to note that 42 of Landry’s pressures were of the cleanup or unblocked variety. Thus, his value may not be as high as the statistics say it should be.
On the flip side, Landry is an ascending player who is only 25 years old. With that age and production, he’ll have plenty of suitors in free agency. He’s also very durable, playing over 1,000 regular season and postseason snaps in three consecutive years.
45. CB STEVEN NELSON, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Prediction: ATLANTA FALCONS – Two years, $14 million ($8.5 million guaranteed)
Nelson had a bit of a down year in 2021, as he allowed a 65.2% completion percentage when targeted and four touchdowns. He allowed the highest passer rating when targeted since his rookie season (103.5), and 46.4% of his receptions allowed went for a first down or touchdown. He performed better in the past, and due to the streaky nature of coverage performance, he could easily rebound next season.
The Falcons desperately need to get AJ Terrell some help in the cornerback room, and signing Nelson to play the slot corner role in Dean Pees’ Cover-2 scheme would be a good start.
The Falcons handing out over $40 million in guarantees at two high-valued positions isn’t surprising. Landry’s familiarity with Atlanta’s staff makes this a no-brainer, especially considering the team’s need for a reliable pass rusher. He’s still young and can potentially anchor a budding pass rush unit.
Nelson is someone I wanted the Falcons to bring in last offseason after his rookie contract expired with the Steelers. However, the team decided to go with Fabian Moreau, who was a cheaper option. I wouldn’t be against signing Nelson, but I’d be surprised if the Falcons also didn’t come away with at least one corner from this loaded draft class.
Menon projects Patterson signing a two-year, $12 million deal with the Jets, which honestly isn’t that unreasonable from the Falcons’ standpoint. However, pouring money into the running back position didn’t work out for the last Falcons regime, and it rarely works out for any franchise. I would be in favor of passing on Patterson and signing someone like Jerrick Mckinnon or JD McKissic.