Falcons Free Agent Targets 2023: David Long

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The Falcons are set to have around $60 million in cap space this offseason, and that figure could quickly balloon to over $70 million if Atlanta parts ways with Marcus Mariota. There isn’t a single position group that doesn’t need top-end talent or depth. Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith are entering a critical juncture in their tenure with more cap space than ever. This continues a series of potential Falcons free agent targets, moving on to David Long.¬†Below are past editions:

Falcons Free Agent Targets 2023: David Long

I will never advocate giving an off-ball linebacker market–resetting money like the Ravens did with Roquan Smith. It’s nothing against the former Georgia Bulldog; it’s just not a premium position and wouldn’t be how I built my fictional team. David Long doesn’t fall into that category. According to Spotrac, Long’s market value is just south of $10 million over two years.

He was elite in defending the run and logged 13 tackles for loss or no gain, tied for the 12th most in the league. Despite 2022 being his first year as a full-time starter, he’s an ascending young talent. Over the last three seasons, his 19.8% pass-rush win rate and 23.8% pressure rate are both the second-best marks among off-ball linebackers, per PFF.

However, Long hasn’t been reliable at staying on the field. The West Virginia product has missed 12 games over the past two seasons, including seven in 2021 and five in 2022. But when healthy, he’s a solid contributor. Long finished the 2022 campaign with 86 tackles and seven tackles for loss in 12 games. Long has improved in pass coverage; his best football is ahead of him if he can stay on the field.

The Falcons need to add to the position too. Atlanta could choose to re-sign Rashaan Evans on a cheaper deal, but Long is an upgrade. Troy Andersen is set to assume one of the starting spots at linebacker, so it might behoove the front office to bring in a veteran, regardless of who it is.

John Jones/Icon Sportswire

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