When the Rams released Chris Long and James Laurinaitis, we argued that the Falcons should at least be interested in kicking the tires on both players. It appears they took that to heart.
League source tells me the Falcons maintain high level of interest on Laurinaitis and Chris Long, and are still working on both players.— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) March 10, 2016
Both signings represent risks for reasons that are immediately obvious, but both
Long simply hasn't been very good or very healthy for the last couple of seasons, which is why he was released. If he's healthy chances are he'll be productive again in 2016, but likely as no more than a rotational end for Atlanta, which figures to start Vic Beasley and Derrick Shelby. For a team hurting for pass rush help, Long is a worthy flyer at the right price, but he'll likely need to take a 1-2 year deal to make it work.
Laurinaitis has a different problem. He's been remarkably healthy and durable in his NFL career, but he simply hasn't been a great linebacker, something that has only gotten worse in recent years. The Falcons will hope a change of scenery will do him good, and that he can represent an upgrade over Paul Worrilow in the middle of the team's defense, but there's obviously no guarantee he will be. Out of the two signings, I'm more wary of Laurinaitis, mostly because of likely cost and the question of how good he'll actually end up being.
If Long and Laurinaitis land in Atlanta, let's hope they can find success here. The Falcons desperately need to land free agents who are big-time contributors, after all.