Free Agent Big Board for the Falcons: Edge Rushers

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I’ve talked about this on multiple occasions, but the Falcons need to focus on building a competent rotation of edge rushers through free agency before going and getting one guy that will put their pass rush over the top. Even if Atlanta decides to use a top pick on an edge rusher, there needs to be a support system behind them. I think that has been the cause of Atlanta’s pass rushing woes over not having “a guy” for years. John Abraham had a strong supporting cast that let him raise hell in the backfield. This is a positional group Atlanta has to spend and spend wisely on in free agency. I’m going to focus on some options that I think can produce for the Falcons right now while also building for the future. Previous editions of this series are listed below:


9. Dorance Armstrong — Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys are short on cash, and with Randy Gregory also hitting free agency, the Falcons could scoop up a solid rotational piece in Dorance Armstrong. The former Jayhawk doesn’t do anything too exceptional, but he was a good rotational pass rusher in Dan Quinn’s defense. If he can be had for the right price, he would be a great start to rebuilding this pass rush from the ground up.


8. Derek Barnett – Philadelphia Eagles

Surprisingly, Derek Barnett is only 25-years-old. He had just two sacks on the season, but he has generated a decent amount of pressure. Barnett wouldn’t fix Atlanta’s pass rush overnight, but he could provide a young infusion of talent if the price is right. Barnett is a very high floor player, while he may never be a ten sack guy, he’s consistent with all facets of his game and young. Barnett is a bit lower on this list because I do believe a team will bet on his upside and give him a large contract.


7. DeMarcus Walker – Houston Texans

You can pretty much cut and paste everything I said about Barnett for Walker down to the two sacks on the season, except that Walker is 27-years-old instead of 25. It will be key for the Falcons to build a strong supporting class of guys who can at least get to the quarterback at an average rate. Almost anybody you can snag in free agency is an upgrade at this point. With Walker costing a little less than Barnett, I’ll give him the edge here.


6. Lorenzo Carter – New York Giants

Carter has been a late bloomer of sorts, and he has rewarded New York’s patience with loads of consistent pressure in 2021. He’s another guy like Walker and Barnett; the 26-year-old Atlanta native would at least provide the Falcons with some young talent at the position for what should be a decent price.


5. Uchenna Nwosu — Los Angeles Chargers

I love the upside play on the 25-year-old Nwosu, he’s exceptional at getting to the quarterback and was a great complimentary pass rusher to Joey Bosa. I’m not sure if he can be a number one guy, but he certainly can be a solid piece in a pass rush that badly needs talent.


4. Arden Key – San Francisco 49ers

I actually wanted Arden Key when he was cut by the Raiders earlier this offseason, and he has had a good bounceback season with the 49ers. Once a guy who was pegged as a potential first overall pick out of LSU, Key seems to have finally strung together a few nice games with five sacks over his last six games. He’s a high upside play for the Falcons at only 25-years-old.


3. Emmanuel Ogbah — Miami Dolphins

Once considered a bust after never finding his footing with the Browns, Ogbah rewarded the Dolphins with eighteen sacks over the past two seasons. He’s absolutely a guy who can become a number one pass rusher; the question is will Ogbah get overpaid on the open market and take the Falcons out of the running for his services?


2. Justin Houston — Baltimore Ravens

I’d love to finally bring Justin Houston back home to Georgia, but the 33-year-old Statesboro native may want to end his career on a competing team. I advocated for Houston to come to the Falcons last season, and his veteran leadership in the locker room along with his legendary skillset would be perfect for Atlanta.


1. Harold Landry III — Tennessee Titans

I’ll give Landry the top spot, but after posting 12 sacks (and 1.5 in the playoffs against the Bengals), will the Falcons be able to afford him? My answer is — probably not. Right now, Landry is projected at around $14 million per season, via OverTheCap. That would be a large chunk of what Atlanta has to spend, even if they restructure Matt Ryan and trade Calvin Ridley. It would be up to Dean Pees and company to decide if Landry is THE GUY that will finally get this pass rush back to respectable.



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