Everyone's still thinking about the pass rush, so I thought we'd take a closer look at the options available on the open market and make it a Pass Rush Monday. That is not, in any way, an actual holiday.
The market has thinned out considerably since free agency first opened, but if the Falcons want to add another capable edge rusher to the mix, there's options. Even if you're fond of Stansly Maponga, Mallciah Goodman and Prince Shembo—and I am—adding a proven or even semi-proven veteran to the mix can't possibly hurt the defense. We've already seen what complacency does, and it ain't pretty.
Here's a quick rundown of some of the options still available to the Falcons. Give it a read and let us know which one you'd prefer the team target.
Greg Hardy: The former Carolina defensive end is looking at a suspension, the NFL is treating him like he's spewing polonium all over the league offices and it's not clear how much of a discount he'd be willing to take. He's easily the best pass rusher left on the open market, though, and eventually someone's going to snap him up. I mention him for posterity's sake, because I don't expect the Falcons to be the team that grabs him.
James Harrison: He's ancient, now, but he was highly touted by Pro Football Focus, and. He's a better fit as an outside linebacker in a 3-4, but quality pass rushers are quality pass rushers, and Harrison should have enough left in the tank to be a nuisance off the edge. The problem is that he only seems to want to return to Pittsburgh, and the wheels could come off any year now.
Dwight Freeney: Freeney is getting older, as well, but he's one of the great pass rushers of the last decade and can still be a disruptive force off the edge. If the Falcons are willing to sign a guy like Adrian Clayborn to a one year deal, they should certainly be willing to do so with Freeney, who could provide a nice, temporary boost.
George Selvie: Chances are his 2013 season was a fluke, as those seven sacks and sterling pressure on a per play basis hasn't cropped up in any other season during his six seasons in the NFL. Selvie's got the size and strength to play end for the Falcons, however, and offers more proven production than, say, Malliciah Goodman.
Sam Acho: I've long been an Acho fan, and despite declining performances the last two seasons, he remains a young and useful complementary option, with good speed and hand usage. He's unlikely to be expensive—he was hurt through most of 2013 and only put up a single sack in 2014—but he does get pressure and could be a nice third down option for a team that figures to rotate personnel heavily.
Bottom of the barrel
Osi Umenyiora: Not because he's truly that awful—he's certainly not great any longer, but he can bring pressure—but the fanbase would be pretty unhappy to see Osi return to the team with some of the other options on the market.
Kroy Biermann: I probably don't need to explain this one. Biermann led the team in sacks last season, but didn't get going until late in the year and remains more of a jack-of-all-trades players than an effective pass rusher.
Corey Wootton: Another one of those players who had one big year and hasn't done much before or since, Wootton has a track record of being a moderately effective part-time player, but he was pretty lousy for Minnesota just last year.
C.J. Wilson: This massive defensive end—seriously, he's listed at 300 pounds—can obviously kick inside and play defensive tackle, but he's played a lot of end during his time in the NFL. As a deep reserve, he might be useful relief for whoever's playing left defensive end, and his size and power give him the ability to occasionally bull his way into the backfield and apply pressure. But again, the market would have to thin out even further before the Falcons would be likely to consider Wilson.