Falcons named free agent landing spot for Chiefs pass rusher

NFL: SEP 07 Lions at Chiefs

The Falcons have a glaring need for a pass rusher but have yet to fill the void.

Terry Fontenot shouldn’t go into the draft with the defense as it’s currently constructed. Atlanta’s GM has to add a proven commodity at the edge position, and PFF sees the Falcons as a free agent fit for Chiefs pass rusher Mike Danna.

Danna is the epitome of a solid, high-floor player who understands his role, controls his gap and makes plays when they come to him. He’s not the burstiest player off the line, but he does well to drive opposing tackles back into the pocket. In an increased role in 2023, we saw him improve at detaching his hands from blockers to get after the quarterback.

Danna is projected to earn a three-year, $24.75 million contract in free agency, per Pro Football Focus, following a campaign in which he recorded 6.5 sacks, 5o tackles, and three passes defended. The 26-year-old participated in 76.4% of the team’s defensive snaps and 15.2% on special teams.

The Falcons are returning Arnold Ebiketie (6 sacks), Lorenzo Carter (3 sacks), and DeAngelo Malone (0 sacks) from a year ago. That’s absolutely pitiful. Even if Ebiketie takes a leap in his development and puts up double-digit sacks, what’s the harm in adding another competent pass rusher?

NFL defenses can never have enough pass rushers. Look at the top units in the league — Ravens, Chiefs, Dolphins, Bills — all of them have multiple pass rushers that can pressure quarterbacks.

The Falcons don’t need help along the interior, but the edge leaves a ton to be desired. Danna wouldn’t be the fix, though. Drafting a pass rusher at No. 8 would continue to bolster the unit in a necessary way.

In that same breath, Falcons fans shouldn’t just expect a rookie to be the answer either. They could be part of the solution, but not the entire answer. Very rarely do rookie pass rushers come in and immediately give a defense 10 sacks.

None of this would be that big of an issue had the Falcons not given Kirk Cousins $180 million. When they did that, the team signaled they are competing for championships. Now, they have to put together a championship-caliber defense, starting with the pass rush.

Photographer: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire
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