Falcons: What will Barkevious Mingo’s role be in Atlanta?

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The second week of free agency has resulted in similar signings as last week, i.e., bargain-hunting, filling holes, and special teams value. Terry Fontenot signed Erik Harris and Brandon Copeland last week, who both came on cheap one-year deals that address two positions of need — safety and linebacker — and can provide value on special teams if need be. Fontenot wasn’t done, though, as he signed Barkevious Mingo today to a one-year deal worth a hair over $1 million, who will surely play a rotational role in Dean Pees’ defense while also being an integral part of Marquice Williams’ special teams unit.

The former LSU Tiger was a top-10 pick in the 2013 NFL draft, where he played for the Cleveland Browns. He has since gone on to play for five other teams before landing in Atlanta. Mingo will line up opposite Dante Fowler in base packages and kick inside on passing downs if Fontenot doesn’t bring in any competition at outside linebacker. Copeland can play either off-ball or outside linebacker, which gives Pees some flexibility with his personnel.

The best thing about Mingo has to be his availability because it isn’t production. Nobody should expect him to record more than a couple of sacks, but he’s only missed two games in his entire career. He will be relied on in run-support, drop into coverage, and rush the passer, but only as a depth piece. Last year in Chicago, he racked up 35 tackles, 2.5 sacks, five quarterback hits, and two passes defended.

Copeland, Harris, and Mingo are all versatile defenders but could provide just as much value for Marquice Williams on special teams as they will on defense. The latest signing — Mingo — has been a core piece of special teams in Chicago, Houston, Seattle, Indianapolis, New England, and Cleveland — playing 63% of snaps per year.

This will continue to be the trend during the new regime’s first offseason, cheap one-year deals with players that offer more than just playing offense or defense. I expect more additions to be made in the secondary, though, and it would be a nice surprise if Fontenot splurged a bit more on a veteran cornerback.

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