James Laurinaitis is visiting Atlanta Monday and Tuesday, and the durable veteran could be signed to the Falcons' thin linebacker corps before the official start of free agency.
Former Rams' LB James Laurinaitis, who visited Saints last week, is scheduled to visit Falcons on Monday and Tuesday, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 6, 2016
Laurinaitis has never missed a game in his career since the Rams drafted him in the second round back in 2009, and he's a sure-tackling linebacker with 16.5 sacks career sacks, 10 interceptions, 34 pass deflections, and 852 tackles. Those surface-level stats don't obscure the fact that the Rams just released him because he has been questionably effective, at best, for the last few seasons.
It's not difficult to suss out what the Falcons are thinking here: Laurinaitis can bounce back, he can be an upgrade over Paul Worrilow in the middle, and he's not going to whiff on a ton of open field tackles. It's the kind of signing you make when you're both confident in your coaching staff and know there's not a lot of immediate upgrades on the open market, and if the money isn't crazy and there's not that many years involved, you can argue it's not a terrible signing.
Considering the Falcons want to get faster, this would be a bit of a head-scratching move, though. They'd be much better off landing Danny Trevathan, even if he'll be considerably more expensive, or considering drafting a young middle linebacker who can grow into a staring role. Laurinaitis as a fallback plan or a stopgap makes sense if you're upgrading the rest of the defense around him, but this would be yet another signing where the name appears bigger than the game, and Atlanta could do without another one of those.