With the Cowboys snatching Everson Griffen for a paltry $6 million yesterday, Atlanta missed an opportunity to plug a hole on the D-Line. They recently were able to sign Darqueze Dennard to a one-year deal for just $910,000 — an incredible value for a player that projects to start at cornerback — leaving them with enough cap space for one more splash in free agency.
With pass rush being their most glaring need, Griffen at $6 million for one year would have been a bowtie on what has been a productive offseason, at least on paper. Now, there’s one less pass rusher left on the market, but veteran Cameron Wake could serve a similar purpose, and it’s where the front office should turn their focus.
Wake is about as old as pass rushers come before retiring. The 38-year-old went undrafted in 2005 and has been setting the edge around the NFL ever since. He notched his 100th sack last season, giving him 100.5 for his career. However, 2019 was the least productive year of his career. He only played in nine games, recording just 2.5 sacks, but he can still be useful in situational roles.
Wake had 10.5 sacks as recently as 2017, and if nothing else, the Falcons should bring him in as a mentor. Last time Atlanta did that, they signed Dwight Freeney in 2016, and it wasn’t a coincidence that Vic Beasley had the best year of his career, and the Falcons made the Super Bowl.
As far as his on-field reps, Takk McKinley and Dante Fowler will be the primary edge rushers, but there isn’t much quality depth behind them. If Wake has something left in the tank, he can be a rotational pass rusher for the team, and there aren’t many better options on the free-agent market remaining outside of Jadeveon Clowney. With Clowney being way out of Atlanta’s price range, scraping together enough cash for Wake on a one-year deal presents a minimal risk for the Falcons with the potential of being a high-quality last-minute addition.
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