Insider speculates on Danielle Hunter free agent price tag for Falcons

dmk191215121 min at lac

It may not be as pressing of a roster need as quarterback and wide receiver, but the Falcons should be in the market to upgrade the edge position.

Firstly, it’s been a weak spot for the club since John Abraham was roaming the Georgia Dome. Secondly, the market is robust with options. Free agency, the trade market, and the draft class feature plenty of solutions at all different price points.

On the most expensive end of the spectrum sits Danielle Hunter; the four-time Pro Bowler is fresh off a career-high 16.5 sack campaign and is set to cash in. Despite turning 30 years old in October, the LSU product has now had at least 10.5 sacks and/or 20 quarterback hits in four of his last five seasons.

The point is Hunter isn’t going to be cheap, but the Falcons shouldn’t be worried about the cost because he’s a difference-maker at one of the most important positions in the sport. So, how expensive is expensive?

ESPN’s Dan Graziano speculated, noting that hisĀ ‘benchmark’ is the deal that the Bears gave Montez Sweat after acquiring him at the trade deadline last year. It was a four-year contract extension with $98 million in new money and $72.9 million guaranteed, $105 million total. Sweat’s new average salary of $24.5 million per year, which puts him around the top five highest-paid players at his position.

The Falcons would be wise to inquire about all of the edge rushers that will be available this offseason because there’s a variety of potential targets — young/old, expensive/bargains, short-term/long-term, etc.

Danielle Hunter would help solidify a defensive line that already features an elite interior tandem of Grady Jarrett and David Onyemata, but if the Falcons feel Hunter isn’t a perfect fit for what Jimmy Lake and Raheem Morris want to do defensively, or a financial fit with what Terry Fontenot wants to do, there are plenty of other options.

Still, a four-year deal worth around $25 million per year is the going rate for elite pass rushers at the position. Don’t be surprised if he garners a three or four-year deal that totals $75 or $100 million, depending on the length.

Photographer: Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire

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