The Falcons have continued to bolster the defensive side of the ball, most recently signing veteran Calais Campbell. Atlanta isn’t done, though. It seems the club is still in the market for a linebacker. D. Orlando Ledbetter reported that the Falcons are continuing to monitor the situation surrounding Rashaan Evans, and Terry Fontenot confirmed that notion.
#Falcons GM Terry Fontenot just confirmed the signing of WR Scotty Miller. Team still hoping to get back LB Rashaan Evans. pic.twitter.com/aM3tD80Ks0
— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@DOrlandoAJC) March 28, 2023
Given Dean Pees’ retirement, I figured Evans would be off the table; Ryan Nielsen was hired as defensive coordinator, and many thought he would want to bring in his own guys. That doesn’t seem to be the case.
I don’t think Rashaan Evans had a bad year by any means, but there are plenty of upgradeable options. He’s a veteran and led a young position group, but Evans struggled mightily in certain facets of the game — pass coverage, in particular. There’s a chance the Falcons retain him, but it shouldn’t be more than bolstering depth.
The Falcons signed Kaden Elliss, and it’s not yet clear what his role will be. With the Saints, Elliss played all over the defensive front — on and off the line of scrimmage. Third downs are when his value shines through due to his unexpected pass rushing prowess, which makes some believe he’s assuming an edge defender role.
If I had to guess, Elliss will play off-ball next to Troy Andersen on early downs while moving onto the line of scrimmage on obvious passing downs as a blitzer or decoy. If that were the case, Atlanta would need a subpackage linebacker, one that thrives in coverage, which Rashaan Evans is not.
I still have a hard time believing Ryan Nielsen will advocate for an average run defender and a well-below-average defender against the pass that he has no familiarity with. Still, the Falcons organization values veteran leadership, which Evans brings to the table. Hopefully, it’s just as a depth piece, though.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire
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