The Falcons came into the offseason needing to improve the entire roster. There wasn’t a single position that couldn’t use bolstering, whether it be starting caliber players or depth. However, after just one day of free agency, several of those holes are now filled.
The Falcons landed a second tight end to start off the day, acquiring Jonnu Smith from the Patriots for a seventh-round pick. That occurred just before the free agency window opened, and it was a sign of a busy day for Terry Fontenot and company.
The first free agent signing of the day was one of their own. Keith Smith inked a one-year deal to stay in Atlanta. Soon after that, David Onyemata signed a three-year deal with the Falcons. His presence on the interior defensive line should make life much easier for Grady Jarret. Then, the bombshell of the day was announced a few hours later. All-Pro safety Jessie Bates III agreed to terms on a four-year contract with Atlanta. Already, it was a successful day for the Falcons, and that’s not even including the five-year extension they reached with Chris Lindstrom, but Day 1 ended with one more signing — Kaden Elliss, formerly of the New Orleans Saints.
Elliss’ deal is for three years at about $7 million AAV, with $11 million guaranteed.
It's a 3-year, $21.5M deal with $11M guaranteed for the #Falcons and Kaden Elliss. https://t.co/n6iIb64AFO
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 14, 2023
Elliss served in a reserve role over his first three years with the Saints, playing mostly on special teams, but was a breakout star over the latter half of his fourth season.
Elliss was asked to do just about everything for the Saints last season and was productive in every area. He is a more than solid run defender and surprisingly good pass rusher, recording seven sacks, six of which came in the final seven weeks.
In Atlanta, Elliss reunites with defensive coordinator Ryan Nielson, who should know exactly how to utilize his versatile skill set. Given how abysmal the Falcons pass rush has been in recent years, there’s hope that he might be a key addition in that area. The exciting part of this deal is the upside. Sure, Elliss’ 2022 campaign could be a flash in the pan, but if it’s a sign of the future, this will be a slam dunk signing for the Falcons, adding another key piece to their defense.
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