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NFL Draft

3 Defensive Free Agents Falcons Should Target

  • The Draft Network
  • March 9, 2021
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The Atlanta Falcons decided it was time to turn the page from their old regime of general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn. In their place now sits Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith.

Those won’t be the only changes to the Falcons as the 2021 offseason and regular season come to pass. The Falcons will likely be making a good amount of roster turnover with the new front office and coach staff, too.

When Smith came over from the Tennessee Titans, he brought defensive coordinator Dean Pees with him—Pees was the Titans’ defensive coordinator in 2018 and 2019. That could give us a hint at what the Falcons might be doing to the defensive side of the ball when it comes to both starters and depth pieces.

As for how much they have to spend, well, right now it’s not much—and by not much I mean they are about $15 million over the cap. Atlanta will make some cuts and restructures to move money around and not only get themselves under the cap but also hopefully create some wiggle room to sign an impact player or two on the defensive side of the ball.

These are three names to keep in mind as defensive free agent targets for the new-look Falcons squad.

Troy Hill, CB, Los Angeles Rams

Projected AAV: 6.5 million

Hill will enter free agency after finishing his two-year, $3.2 million contract with the Rams. The 29-year-old undrafted free agent from Oregon bounced around for a bit during his rookie season in 2015 but found a home with the Rams. This past season, he ranked as Pro Football Focus’ 27th-best cornerback in the league.

The Falcons could stand to make a splash at cornerback, and Hill could be the perfect candidate to do so, as he will give you upside coming off his best season while not costing a fortune. Hill and the young A.J. Terrell would be a good pairing moving forward.

Aldon Smith, EDGE, Dallas Cowboys

Projected AAV: Unknown

There was a point in time where Smith was on a Hall of Fame career path. As a rookie, he recorded 14 sacks, then followed that up with a 19.5-sack season, one sack short of J.J. Watt's league-leading 20.5 sack total. In fact, Smith's 33.5 sacks from 2011-12 were the most any player had ever recorded in their first two seasons.

But the consequences of his actions off the field—multiple DUIs and a domestic violence charge—ended Smith’s career in its prime. Smith didn’t play for four years before returning to the game in 2020.

Smith played this past season with the Cowboys and in 16 games recorded five sacks. He ranked in the top half of Pro Football Focus’ edge rush rankings, but it was certainly a learning year for Smith. Smith’s AAV projection is completely unknown due to his unique situation, but the 31-year-old could be had at a decent price.

Jayon Brown, LB, Tennessee Titans

Projected AAV: $10 million

This one's a bit of a stretch money-wise, but for the fit, it makes sense. Brown has played for Pees before in Tennessee. The Falcons have a linebacker need, but it is less pressing than their needs at pass rush and in the secondary. If they can get Brown for a favorable price, this is a pairing that has some legs. He would be a very nice coverage linebacker for the Falcons to add in their base and subpackage formations.

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