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Quinn Hopes To Retain Weatherspoon, Team Could Pursue More Linebackers

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The former first-round pick's representation is reportedly talking with Falcons brass.

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons parted ways with a few talented players yesterday. Lost in all the fracas over who the team decided to cut, however, was a little more news about who the team hopes to keep or add in the coming weeks.

Sean Weatherspoon appears next on the re-signing list for Atlanta. Keeping in tune with general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who said that Weatherspoon should be an "important part" of the defense earlier this month, head coach Dan Quinn tells Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com that he too would like to retain the linebacker's services in 2015.

"With him, it's that toughness and the speed that he can play with so, yes, definitely someone that we're talking to," Quinn said Friday. "I know he's got that kind of attitude. And you know me, just from watching our style of defense, it's fast and physical. And that's what Sean is. So, we're certainly hoping that he can be a big part of it moving forward."

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com added that the two parties have continued to stay in contact.

Weatherspoon will officially become a free agent when the NFL year begins on March 10. And for those skeptical of whether another organization would actually show interest in the injury-plagued defender, McClure notes in his report that "at least one AFC team" could also go after him.

Those active on Twitter yesterday will remember this tweet from Weatherspoon, which seemingly expressed his displeasure toward the team's decision to axe veterans Steven Jackson, Harry Douglas and Justin Blalock. But when given more time to explain himself, it turns out he was simply more upset about the existing CBA policies than anything else.

That's probably good news for those of you wanting to see Weatherspoon remain with the Falcons.

There's no denying Weatherspoon's injury history: the sixth-year veteran has missed 28 regular season games since 2012, including all of last season after suffering a ruptured Achilles during training camp. But if healthy -- a big "if," of course -- there's likely a belief among the coaches and front office that he could again tap into the talent that made him a first-round draft pick. The Falcons are clearly in need of capable linebackers, and this has all the makings of a classic low-risk signing.

The team also reportedly expressed interest in a number of free agent inside linebackers. We've already heard names like David Harris and Mason Foster tossed around, and on Friday the ever-reliable McClure added another two to the mix: former Seahawks backup Malcolm Smith and ex-Buccaneer Jonathan Casillas.

Smith only played 286 defensive snaps along with some special teams last season, but he's still 25 years old and also happens to have one of the more unlikely Superbowl MVP's ever awarded. The 6-foot, 226-pound USC product played some weakside linebacker (WILL) for Seattle last season and would project to that role if acquired by Atlanta.

The Patriots traded for Casillas mid-season and used him in a backup role, as well. Like Smith, he should have plenty left in the tank at 27 years old and would offer depth and some above-average coverage skills.

Your thoughts on how the Falcons could address the talent at linebacker?