Late last night, Adam Schefter broke that Allen Bailey and the Falcons agreed to a two-year deal worth $10.5 million with $3.5 million in guarantees. Atlanta will be paying the former Chiefs defensive end $6 million in 2019 and $4.5 million for 2020. Although, this looks like a deal the Falcons can get out of next season if Bailey is unproductive.
Atlanta’s loaded with talented players on both sides of the ball, but their defensive line is the one glaring area of weakness – not just for this year, but for the future as well. Outside of Takk McKinley, the Falcons did not have a defensive-end signed past this season. Vic Beasley Jr., Adrian Clayborn, and Jack Crawford are all set to become unrestricted free agents in 2020. This will be a prove-it year for all of them, as Dan Quinn continues his search for pressure, something Atlanta has been miserable at for over a decade.
Injuries also played a factor in this acquisition. Steven Means, who looked poised for a much larger reserve role in 2019, tore his Achilles back in May. Michael Bennett, another potential reserve defensive lineman, broke his ankle yesterday and is out indefinitely. A thin group was quickly looking much weaker, and training camp had only begun.
What Bailey brings to the Falcons
Bailey played under Bob Sutton – a new senior assistant for the Falcons specializing in clock management and in-game strategy – while he was in Kansas City, where Sutton was the defensive coordinator.
With the Chiefs, Bailey was a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. He has the size (6’3″, 290 pounds) to play defensive tackle in a 4-3, but also posesses the athleticism to play on the outside. I’d expect most of his reps to come at an interior defensive line spot, but Dan Quinn will likely mix things up and allow him to play some on the outside too – as he does with Jack Crawford.
The Georgia native spent eight seasons in Kansas City and is coming off his most productive campaign to date. He recorded 38 combined tackles, six sacks, four fumble recoveries, and had two forced fumbles in 2018, as the Chiefs fell a hair shy of making it to the Super Bowl. The six sacks were a career-high, but that will be difficult to replicate in Atlanta. With Kansas City, he had other superstar pass-rushers aiding him like Dee Ford and Justin Houston. The Falcons do not possess that luxury.
Bailey will be at his best using his power to defend against the run, which the Falcons ranked 25th in the league against last season. If there is one player who has to be ecstatic about this acquisition; it’s the newly extended Grady Jarrett. Having run stoppers like Tyler Davison and Allen Bailey on the roster should take some of the bodies off of Atlanta’s superstar defensive tackle – something that has rarely happened during his four-year career. The addition of Bailey makes the Falcons defensive line group look much more formidable as the season quickly approaches. Now, Atlanta’s focus needs to be on avoiding any more injuries before the start of the year.