The Atlanta Falcons still have something to prove. Who should they target in free agency to rebound in 2019?
Many people believed the Falcons could return to Super Bowl form in 2019. With that highly-documented and talented offense, and a defense that was towards the top of the league in 2017, all signs pointed to exactly that.
But a team can’t just look good on paper, and the Falcons demonstrated that this past season. Injuries depleted the team, specifically on the defense, and that made it tough for the Falcons to ever find their footing.
Deion Jones, Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal all missed significant time. Jones appeared in six games, Allen played in three and Neal unfortunately missed every game but one. Even Grady Jarrett had to sit out two games.
Those are key starters, and their absences can be seen in the team’s poor defensive rankings. Offensively, Matt Ryan played well, but Devonta Freeman played only two games. Actually, the offense brought probably the most promise as Ryan ad an MVP-like year, Julio Jones found the end zone and rookie receiver Calvin Ridley had a great first year.
Now with a new offensive coordinator in Dirk Koetter, Dan Quinn assuming both the head coach and defensive coordinator jobs, the Falcons will try and prepare for a bounce back 2019.
General manager, Thomas Dimitroff, currently has just over $28 million in available cap space to re-tool with. Some defensive starters are set to become free agents; therefore the team should set their sights on addressing those needs.
5. K.J. Wright, LB, Seattle Seahawks
When you look and see who the Falcons have at the linebacker position, you’ll see they need to upgrade. Other than Deion Jones, the position doesn’t have a lot of promising players currently on the roster.
K.J. Wright, a member of those magnificent Seattle Seahawk defenses, should be on the team’s radar this offseason. He may be one of those free agents that some people overlook, and he could fall into the lap of the Falcons.
Since coming into the league in 2011, he has 744 combined tackles, 480 solo tackles and 50 tackles for loss to go with two interceptions and 11.5 sacks.
Wright’s tackle numbers are impressive. Since his debut, he as the 10th highest-total of combined tackles among all players that play linebacker. He is also 11th in solo tackles during that time.
No, Wright won’t be getting into the backfield too often, nor will he be picking off passes. However, he would be a perfect partner for Jones, as he was for so many years with Bobby Wagner.
Wright would provide a veteran presence with great football knowledge. He also has familiarity playing in a 4-3 defensive scheme, and Quinn wouldn’t have to worry about him picking up on things.
Last year the Falcons defense was ranked 25th against the run, which is a direct result of the injuries the team had. Wright would help negate that from happening in 2019 with a healthy Jones.
Wright will be 30 this summer, but he hasn’t shown any signs of decline.