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Falcons free agency: Robert McClain headed to New England

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Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

One of the Falcons free agents hanging around on the open market has landed a job, with Robert McClain heading to the Patriots.

McClain, 26, finishes his three-year Falcons career with 186 tackles, two sacks, 21 pass deflections and three interceptions. He was lights out when the Falcons first acquired him in 2012, serving as a key piece of a better-than-expected secondary that helped propel Atlanta to the NFC Conference Championship Game. He followed that with a down year in 2013 and an up-and-down year in 2014, though you'd be hard-pressed to ignore the fact that some of that was probably due to what was going on with A) the front seven and B) Mike Nolan.

The Falcons are clearly coveting taller cornerbacks under Dan Quinn, but I thought McClain had  chance to return. Instead he'll head to a New England team that lost Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner in free agency, which means he has a legitimate shot to start and be arguably the team's best cornerback.

McClain leaves Atlanta with a worse reputation than he probably deserved, but his standout 2012 performance made 2013 and 2014 look far inferior in comparison. We wish him well in New England, and I'll probably get to watch him play quite a bit.