The Falcons managed to sign Leonard Hankerson today, but the news isn't all great. Pass rusher Derrick Morgan has reportedly left Atlanta without a deal.
Indeed Derrick Morgan left Atlanta without a contract, according to his agent. Supposed to have 6 p.m flight to Tampa.— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) March 11, 2015
It's entire possible Morgan is just surveying his market with this visit to the Buccaneers, but it's always concerning when one of your potentially prized free agent targets gets out of the building and goes to visit a rival. The Falcons have Adrian Clayborn and other options as fallback plans, of course, but Morgan would be a nice get and is arguably the best of a largely complementary class. He's been durable and effective for the Titans in his career, and while no one's going to confuse him for peak John Abraham, the Falcons are starving for tangible upgrades.
The Buccaneers do have money to spend and have a desperate need for a pass rusher, just like the Falcons, so they'll attempt to lock him down before he can bring an offer back to Atlanta. If the end result of this is that the Falcons pay a bit more than they want to in order to land Morgan, no big deal. If they lose him, they'll obviously need to target other pass rushers, and I don't know that anyone available is as good as Morgan is. It would be disappointing after they put the full court press on him.
I haven't given up hope that Morgan will sign with Atlanta, again, because he could just be testing the waters in Tampa after a fruitful meeting with the Falcons. He could certainly use a Buccaneers offer as leverage against the Falcons to try to coax more money out of the team, as well. But certainly there's an edge of anxiety to the proceedings now, and it's a very good thing the Falcons have a fallback plan visiting in the form of Adrian Clayborn.
The only thing that's certain is the Falcons are still pursuing upgrades to the pass rush, and we're hopeful they'll land at least one legitimate option sooner rather than later so we can rest easy. Keep an eye out for Morgan's status in the hours ahead.