Free agents still on the market that could potentially interest the Falcons

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At this point in the offseason, it’s unlikely the Falcons make another addition from the free agent market, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t come further down the road, especially if injuries arise.

Typically, the guys on this list would be a pipe dream, but this offseason changed things. Atlanta is a free agent destination; look no further than the Calais Campbell signing. The future Hall of Famer chose the Falcons over several legitimate Super Bowl contenders due to a myriad of reasons — culture, Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot’s film session on Desmond Ridder, and Arthur Blank’s philanthropic promises.

Now, that’s an individual case, but it sends a message out that the Falcons are a club worth considering. So, here are some free agent options that could potentially interest the Falcons.

Jadeveon Clowney

I have been writing about Clowney for years, but he’s much different than he was a few seasons ago. He’s more of a big name than a marquee defender, but when he’s healthy, Clowney can still impact games.

He’s slowly declined since his Pro Bowl campaign in 2018, outside of the 2021 season with the Browns, in which he logged nine sacks, 32 pressures and 11 tackles for loss in just 14 games. 2022 was much closer to what he’ll bring in 2023, though — 28 tackles, four for loss, two sacks and 12 pressures in 12 games.

His value as a pass rusher isn’t what it used to be, even though he never realized his full potential in that facet, but he’s still a menace defending the run. If the Falcons experience any significant injuries along the defensive front, Clowney should be at the top of the wishlist. A deal worth about $6-8 million would be intriguing.

Yannick Ngakoue

Get the theme yet? If there’s one area that could be upgraded, other than the receiver room, it is the edge group. Ngakoue is by far the best defender on this list and will likely command around $10 million, but it would be worth it. He’s recorded 19.5 sacks, 63 pressures, and 16 tackles for loss with two clubs since 2021. He’s far more durable than Clowney and much younger than our next candidate.

Justin Houston

A mercenary for hire, the 34-year-old last played for the Ravens in a reserve role but still somehow logged 9.5 sacks and 25 pressures while assuming just 44% of Baltimore’s defensive snaps. Houston is versatile enough to step into a defense with even or odd fronts, but his most productive seasons recently came as a true defensive end with the Colts, where he logged 19 sacks and 53 pressures between 2019 and 2020.

Dawuane Smoot

Though he’s not a household name, Smoot has quietly been one of the more productive players in this league. With the Jaguars over six seasons, Smoot recorded 123 tackles, 27 for loss, and 22.5 sacks. He’s been consistent too, notching at least five sacks in four consecutive seasons. Better served as a reserve, rotational player, Smoot would cost considerably less than the other players on this list and still bolster the Falcons defensive front rotation.

DeAndre Hopkins

The only wide receiver on the open market worth bringing in is DeAndre Hopkins. Jarvis Landry, T.Y. Hilton, Sammy Watkins, and Bryon Pringle are all options, but the position isn’t as valuable in Arthur Smith’s offense with versatile players like Bijan Robinson, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Kyle Pitts in the fold. Still, Hopkins is a difference maker.

He might be entering the twilight years of his career, but he’s still widely productive. He possesses elite body control and awareness, as well as alignment versatility. He averaged nearly 80 yards per game last year with the Cardinals, which would be about 1,350 yards across 17 games. He would immediately put the Falcons’ skill group in the conversation for the best in football.

Photographer: Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire

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