3 Pass-Rushers Falcons Can Sign Right Now

Thomas Mott
March 17, 2020 - 3:17 pm

With the NFL’s Legal Tampering Period officially upon us, Free Agency and the start of the new league year have brought a flurry of interesting and exciting moves. The Atlanta Falcons began Monday with a bevy of news that included the cutting of both running back Devonta Freeman and Safety Desmond Trufant.

These moves, paired with the Falcons choosing not to offer a long-term contract extension to tight end Austin Hooper, have left some Falcons’ fans scratching their heads. However, with the additional $10+ million the Falcons now have at their disposal, Atlanta can look to sign a free agent that will improve their greatest weakness in 2019. Pass-rusher.

ESPN’s Vaughn McClure already hinted at the Falcons' desire to sign a pass-rusher in a post to the ESPN website Monday.

Cowboys DE Robert Quinn was reportedly a target for Atlanta until early Tuesday morning when Quinn was given a 5-year, $70 million deal with the Bears. With Quinn out of the picture, who could the Falcons set their sights on now?

3 Pass-rusher options:

Dante Fowler Jr. Fowler spent 2019 with the LA Rams where he collected 11.5 sacks (more than any single Falcon in 2019) 19 QB hurries and 2 forced fumbles. Fowler reportedly is looking to sign anywhere between $11-15 million a year. Thankfully, the Falcons can afford that with the recent moves to cut Trufant and Freeman.

Fowler was once the third overall pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2016 NFL Draft. Despite his high draft stock, Fowler battled injuries early on in his Jaguar career which resulted in limited play and underwhelming stats.

However, the raw talent he showcased at the University of Florida still remains ready for a team willing to take a chance with him.

The Falcons reportedly have shown interest in the past when it comes to Fowler. Tony Pauline from the Pro Football Network said a few weeks ago that, “Fowler wants to play in Atlanta for the Falcons”. Should the Falcons pull the trigger?

Markus Golden. The 28-year-old pass-rusher spent his first three seasons in New York with the Giants where he showed flashes of QB sacking brilliance. Last year, Golden had 77 pass rushes where he was the first Giant to get to the quarterback. Overall, Golden finished 2019 with 10 sacks, 27 QB hits and 13 TFLs.

ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported a few weeks ago that Golden is interested in returning to the Giants but will likely test free agency.

Golden is expected to command around $10 million a year. This should put the Falcons in the mix for his QB sacking services.

Everson Griffin. The oldest pass-rusher of the bunch, Griffin will turn 33-years-old in December. Despite the age, Griffin still ranked 14th among NFL edge defenders with 66 pressures (according to PFF). Griffin also was the captain of the Vikings defense which upset the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome in the NFC Wildcard round. 

Griffin’s stats won’t wow anyone with only 8 sacks and 24 QB hits, however, his veteran leadership could pay off in the end if the Falcons end up drafting a DE with the 16th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. 

Griffin will have his share of suitors in free agency, perhaps one of them could be the Falcons.

With age and declining stats on their side, Atlanta’s front office could cut a deal with Griffin for a 3-year deal that would pay him less than $11 million a year. 

While it is very likely the Falcons will sign someone on this list, other names could find their way into a black and red uniform in 2020. Only time will tell. However, one thing remains clear, Atlanta took the risk of cutting starters to create money and now has to spend it somewhere.