Free agent deals we wish the Falcons made

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The Falcons handed out the biggest free agent deal of the NFL offseason, giving Kirk Cousins $180 million over four years.

It filled Atlanta’s single most pressing roster need. Quarterback play lost more games than it won last year for the Falcons, and it ultimately cost Arthur Smith his job.

Going from Desmond Ridder to Kirk Cousins might be one of the most dramatic shifts at the position in recent memory. In the same legal tampering period, the Falcons inked Darnell Mooney to a three-year deal, filling the team’s second-most pressing need.

The roster is coming together, but there’s still work to do on the defensive side of the ball. The Falcons have the pieces in place to compete right now; however, signing Kirk Cousins signaled to the rest of the league that they’re in win-now mode, regardless of if you or I agree with that sentiment.

The reason I’m not as high as some Falcons fans is because of the defense. It looks a lot like the defenses that Matt Ryan had to deal with, which is why I’ve created a list of free agents that I wish the team would’ve signed.

Danielle Hunter (two-year, $49 million)

The Falcons were reportedly in on Hunter, but the Texans ended up signing the LSU product. If there’s one thing that every Falcons fan can agree on, it’s that the pass rush still needs work.

Hunter would have single-handedly moved the needle for Atlanta. The four-time Pro Bowler is fresh off a career-high 16.5 sack campaign and was always set to cash in. Despite turning 30 years old in October, Hunter has had at least 10.5 sacks and/or 20 quarterback hits in four of his last five seasons.

Falcons fans may say, “Well Alex, we don’t have any cap space.” That’s true to a certain extent, except Terry Fontenot could have restructured the team’s most expensive contracts to create the cap space needed to sign Hunter or any of the other guys in this piece.

“Well, we don’t want to end up like the Saints in cap hell!” The Falcons have a window with Kirk Cousins. To not maximize the roster in that window is foolish. Moreover, the Saints are where they’re at because of 5+ years of kicking the can down the road, not just one offseason.

Jonathan Greenard (four-year, $76 million)

The Vikings and Texans swapped pass rushers; Hunter to Houston and Greenard to Minnesota, but I wish one of them would’ve landed in Atlanta.

Greenard is coming off a career year, posting 12.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss, along with 52 tackles, two passes defended, and a forced fumble in 15 games.

Hunter is smack dab in the middle of his prime, whereas Greenard is seemingly just reaching his. Regardless of your preference, the Falcons would’ve been a much better football team if they had signed either of them.

Bryce Huff (three-year, $51.1 million)

Surprise, surprise! Another pass rusher! Well, let me spoil the last free agent deal I wish the Falcons did, it’s another pass rusher. It’s the single most pressing roster need right now.

Like Greenard, Huff is a young, ascending pass rusher who could’ve solidified the Falcons defense for years. He’ll be 26 by the time the season starts and is coming off the best campaign of his career. Huff put up 10 sacks and 21 quarterback hits yet only played 42% of the Jets’ defensive snaps. The Falcons haven’t had that kind of production in more than a decade.

Josh Uche (one-year, $3 million with max value of $8 million)

Uche isn’t on the same level as the other three, but at this price, who is complaining? Tom Pelissero did report after the news of the deal that Uche turned down more money to stay in New England, including one worth $15 million over two years, with $11 million fully guaranteed.

Uche has had three or fewer sacks in three of his four seasons, but he did put up 11.5 sacks in 2022. However, he’s never played a prominent role in a defense. He’s only started three games in his Patriots career and never played more than 50% of the snaps in a game last season. Still, at that price tag of $15 million over two years, I would’ve welcomed Uche to the Falcons.

What are the free agent deals that you wish the Falcons did?

Photographer: Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire

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