In January there were reports from ESPN’s Vaughn McClure that the Falcons had “preliminary talks” with De’Vondre Campbell’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus. The report is vague, and I believe contract talks are in limbo due to Arthur Blank’s evaluation of the entire franchise, and the Falcons limited cap space. Now that the front office and coaching staff is virtually complete, the attention will shift to the teams’ higher priority free agents.
This doesn’t mean Campbell is leaving in free agency. He brought consistent production in the run game and is even more of a sure-tackler than Deion Jones. The Minnesota native had a missed tackle rate half that of the league-wide recognized Jones. Where Campbell is liable is in coverage, unlike Jones, but he will hear from multiple teams due to his high production in the run game. The Falcons likely will not offer him the most amount of money, and may not be able to at all.
For this article, we will assume that Campbell tests free agency and heads to greener pastures. There is a talented group of young linebackers set to hit the open market, and the front office would be wise to make inquiries before deciding on Campbell.
Danny Trevathan/Nick Kwiatkoski
Chicago is an intriguing situation. The wealth the Bears possess at inside linebacker is absurd. Trevathan, Kwiatkoski, and Roquan Smith could start on just about every NFL team aside from a handful. The Bears will either pay the proven but injury-riddled veteran or the gamble on the fourth-rounder who was arguably their best linebacker at the end of the season. Regardless of who Chicago’s front office decides to give the money, the Falcons would be wise to bring in the other guy.
Due to atrocious cap management, the Rams will be unable to sign Littleton, who has steadily improved every year since coming into the league as an undrafted free agent in 2016. From a special teams standout to a defensive starter, Littleton has developed into a fantastic three-down linebacker. The only concern with him is in the run game, but he and Debo would be terrifying to pass against.
Schobert will likely command a similar salary to Shaq Thompson, but that shouldn’t deter the Atlanta front office from reaching out to his agent. He has recorded over 100 tackles in each of the past three seasons and further improved his situation this past season, showing he is capable of defending the pass. Schobert had nine passes defended and recorded a career-high four interceptions in 2019.
There are other names that are missing for a reason. First and foremost, Blake Martinez is essentially what Atlanta already had in Campbell. Watching every Green Bay game this year, I feel safe in saying Martinez is an absolute liability in the passing game and lacks the sideline to sideline speed that Debo has. Nick Vigil is the complete opposite, a total liability against the run, but effective in sub-packages against the pass. Kevin Pierre-Louis played well when given the opportunity, but is that small sample size enough for a team to pull the trigger. Josh Bynes and Sean Lee are aging and only still effective as two down linebackers. Hasson Reddick has been terrible since being selected in the first round by the Cardinals. The only positive — Reddick is 26 and could potentially be a late bloomer.
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