Defensive tackle Vance Walker signed with the Oakland Raiders Monday afternoon, ending his tenure with the Atlanta Falcons. Walker started nine games in 2012. His new contract on the West Coast should pencil him in for more playing time next season.
A seventh-round pick by Atlanta in 2009, Walker finally saw an increase in action during his fourth pro season. He recorded 32 total tackles, three sacks and one forced fumble last year.
Pro Football Focus took note of Walker's improved play, rating him as the second-best defender on the Falcons roster. Better known for his run-stopping prowess, Walker noticeably stepped up his pass rushing skills as well. At this point you can pencil him in as a starter on the Raiders depleted defensive line.
What does this mean for the Falcons? Their depth at defensive tackle takes a hit. Jonathan Babineaux and Corey Peters remain atop the depth chart, but this may be more of a vote of confidence in Travian Robertson. Even though he only played 47 snaps his rookie season, the coaching staff always spoke highly of his progression. He looks like a more promising backup than Perry Jeria at this point, who will be a free agent in 2014. Micanor Regis is also on the roster, if that means anything to you.
The Falcons aren't losing a starter here, but Walker was a promising part-timer for the defensive line. Thoughts on his departure?