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Should the Falcons be interested in former Jets linebacker Quinton Coples?

Short answer: Yes. Longer answer: Yes, with qualifications.

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

One team's trash can be another team's treasure, and while that rarely happens with in-season roster releases, the Falcons have the rare opportunity to pick up a young, formerly promising player at a relative position of need. It might be worth kicking the tires.

Coples had some success under Rex Ryan and didn't do anything under Todd Bowles this season, so it's not surprising that the Jets elected to cut ties. At 290 pounds, Coples is not a natural outside linebacker, but could be a fit at end. I'm intrigued enough to consider the possibility when usually I dismiss these kinds of potential signings out of hand, for what that's worth.

Why it makes sense

Coples is just 25 years old, had 6.5 sacks a year ago in 15 starts, and now has some experience playing both end and linebacker, though he's likely miscast at the latter. He's a sturdy enough run defender to fit in Dan Quinn's system, and if he's even halfway capable as a pass rusher, he'd at least be a quality addition to the rotation. You're not expecting greatness here, but an upgrade would be welcome.

It makes sense if you believe this coaching staff can develop young players, as well. Coples has had a disappointing career thus far, to be certain, but getting limited snaps in Atlanta the rest of the way and having an offseason to learn the defense could work out for him, and the Falcons have a bunch of impending free agents (Adrian Clayborn, Kroy Biermann, and O'Brien Schofield) who have played end for them this season. If he's picked up off of waivers, he'll be under contract in 2016.

Why it doesn't make sense

The Jets wouldn't be releasing Coples if they felt like he was a worthy player, and under Todd Bowles this year, he's figured in just four games with zero starts. Especially given his first round pedigree, Coples has been a disappointing, often tentative defensive player, and the last thing the Falcons need is someone who isn't fast and physical.

If he's claimed, the Falcons would be on the hook for $7.7 million in salary for next season, which is clearly not worth it unless Coples blossoms here.  You won't worry about that if you just sign him after he clears waivers, of course, but he might not clear waivers. If you think he's already hit his NFL ceiling, he'd just be another addition to a rotation that hasn't managed to rush the passer well thus far, and it really depends purely on how confident the coaching staff is in their developmental ability, and whether they like what Coples might bring to the table.


Some other team ahead of the Falcons in the waiver order may well put in a claim on Coples, but I can see the Falcons being interested in him (especially if he does clear waivers), and I think he'd be a worthwhile pickup.