The Falcons are set to have around $60 million in cap space this offseason, and that number could easily balloon to over $70 million if Atlanta chooses to part ways with Marcus Mariota. Terry Fontenot might have the resources to be a big player in free agency, but the team only has 55 players under contract. He’ll still need to find value at times, and Pro Football Focus suggests Samson Ebukam, who won’t break the bank, as a possible free agent target.
It’s almost impressive how little production the Falcons have gotten from edge defenders over the last three seasons, as their 229 quarterback pressures are the fewest in the NFL by more than 50 and well below the league average at 406.
The Falcons could consider a bigger splash now that their budget looks a bit cleaner after completely purging the roster over the last two seasons — their $56.7 million in projected 2023 cap space is second in the NFL — but they may still be a year away from fully pushing their chips in once again, especially if they feel they need to address quarterback once more.
Ebukam is coming off back-to-back seasons with 45 quarterback pressures, and he’s not just a pure pass-rusher, totaling 51 defensive stops over the last two seasons. With Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees retiring after this season, there could be changes coming to the structure of the Falcons defense, but Ebukam has shown flexibility as a bit of a tweener with his 6-foot-3, 245-pound frame between his days spent as a stand-up outside linebacker with the Los Angeles Rams and a defensive end in San Francisco.
Samson Ebukam might not be the household name that many Falcons fans were hoping for this offseason, but he’s quietly put together a solid season for the 49ers. Despite Nick Bosa headlining the Niners’ pass rush, Ebukam is a quality complementary piece that would be a welcomed addition to Atlanta’s unit. The Falcons should be able to acquire a player of his caliber for $7-10 million per season — a bargain for a free agent pass rusher. This is what he’s capable of providing in Atlanta:
Samson Ebukam initially goes speed to power, then @sosa50 flashes power on the counter, only to reduce his hitting surface & “ole” his blocker with a swim move for the pressure! #passrush #49ers pic.twitter.com/gTM8WAOha0
— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) December 29, 2022
The Falcons should dip into the free agent market to bolster multiple position groups, but there might not be a unit in need of more help than the edge defenders. Arnold Ebiketie and DeAngelo Malone should improve in their second years; however, the Falcons have by far the worst pass rushing group in football. Unfortunately, only bolstering the edge unit won’t fix it. The Falcons need talent along the interior and better coverage on the back end. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, but Atlanta hasn’t been able to figure out a single way to consistently rush the passer for nearly a decade.