The Atlanta Falcons have publicly declared their intent to add depth, talent, and youth on defense. In some ways, this isn't a situation that calls for an overnight fix. In fact, it's probably not fair to expect that. To be fair, given two or three quality drafts, they can properly revamp the defense. But we live in the present, so let's talk about that.
The Falcons approach with the linebacker corps right now is ... curious. So far they've tendered Paul Worrilow, signed former 1st rounder Sean Weatherspoon, and inexplicably allowed Nate Stupar to walk.
Earlier today James Laurinaitis signed with the division rival New Orleans Saints. That said, Laurinaitis probably isn't the solution the Saints need.
Once viewed as a borderline Pro Bowl talent, Laurinaitis' play has slipped the past two seasons. The 29 year old has recorded at least 100 tackles in every NFL season, but has been a liability against the run and rarely forces turnovers. If the Saints are going to improve a defense that earned the worst grade ever recorded by the metrics site Football Outsiders, they're going to need a lot more than Laurinaitis.
So where do the Falcons go from here? There aren't a lot of quality options remaining. Let's take a look at the remaining free agent linebackers the Falcons could pursue:
Neal may not be a free agent for long, because the Green Bay Packers would be foolish to let him walk. They drafted him in 2010 and he's struggled to stay healthy ever since. Notwithstanding a shaky injury history, he's had four sacks every year since 2012. He played outside linebacker for the Packers, but he's built like a defensive end.
Heck, they brought back Sean Weatherspoon, why not bring back The Dump Truck himself? Seriously though, the Raiders just cut Lofton. This isn't going to happen. Move along, everyone.
The San Diego Chargers recently cut Butler because he was making entirely too much money. I'd prefer that we not overpay for him either. 2014 and 2015 weren't his best seasons, but he's still young. If he can regain his 2013 form, he'd be an asset.
He's a favorite among those in the know and it's still possible that the Tennessee Titans re-sign him. Brown lost his job in week 5 last season, so maybe he's looking for a fresh start.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers recently released Carter, a versatile linebacker who can play both ILB and OLB.
He was just released by the Cleveland Browns earlier today. He expected to make $5 million a year over the next two years, but given his present unemployment, he might settle for something less than that. Not that tackles are any indication of skill level, but Dansby led the Browns last season. (If anything, that shows that he's still a work horse.)
Off-the-field issues led to the 1 year suspension Aldon is currently serving. He will be reinstated in November. It won't help the team much in 2016, but that's life. Deal with it.