Star pass rusher taken off the board for the Falcons

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After patching up their two biggest needs heading into the offseason by signing Kirk Cousins and Darnell Mooney, the Falcons’ focus can shift to the defensive side of the ball, where they could use a ton of help across the line as well as cornerback. There’s not a free agent left on the market that will be able to single-handedly fix Atlanta’s pass rush woes, something that’s plagued the organization for over a decade. But there are potential trade targets that could come pretty close.

One name Falcons fans were keeping a close eye on today was eight-time Pro-Bowler Khalil Mack. The 33-year-old is coming off a career-high 17 sacks, and it seemed highly likely that he would be traded this offseason because of the Chargers cap situation. Unfortunately for the Falcons, Los Angeles has worked out a restructured deal with the former Defensive Player of the Year, which will keep him with the Chargers for at least one more season.


The thought of having Khalil Mack, Grady Jarrett, and David Onyemata lining up across the line of scrimmage in third and long situations is something Falcons fans have been dreaming about for ages. The pass rush has been the single biggest issue on the defensive side of the ball since Jonathan Abraham was sacking quarterbacks in the Georgia Dome.

Atlanta’s leaders in sacks from a year ago were Calais Campbell and Bud Dupree, two veterans towards the end of their careers who don’t have any business leading a team in sacks. They also both happen to be free agents themselves, leaving the Falcons with an embarrassingly thin group of EDGE defenders. Multiple bodies must be added to the position before the start of the season, and finding an impact pass rusher that can rack up double-digit sacks year after year has to be at the top of Terry Fontenot’s list of priorities.

Based on the Falcons reported interest in Brian Burns, Montez Sweat, and most recently, Danielle Hunter, it’s evident Terry Fontenot is taking some big swings at trying to fix the issue. To this point, he’s struck out, but I expect him to keep trying any time a premier pass rusher becomes available moving forward.

Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

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