After another year of not rebuilding the Falcons should be in the market for just about any half decent veteran that ends up needing a job. Guard? I'll take it. Tight end? Yes. Defensive end? All of them. Corner? Please. Wide receiver? Get on my roster!
We are looking at recent cuts and seeing who makes the most sense.
ILB Perry Riley
A 28-year-old Atlanta native, Riley has been a solid starting linebacker more or less his entire career, but he's playing just 23 games over the last two seasons and may not have knocked off all the rust from his last injury. The Falcons could do considerably worse than Riley as a backup, but he's likely to push for a starting job, and I doubt the Falcons would just hand him one.
DE Stephen Paea
Paea is a 310 pound defensive tackle who plays some defensive end, but he wasn't particularly productive in Washington and only drew one start. What's intriguing is that Paea was a starter for the Bears before that, and actually put up six sacks in 2014. Again, he'd likely be a reserve in Atlanta, but if the Falcons are looking to add more veterans to a crowded, unsettled depth chart, they could do much worse than Paea.
DE Paul Kruger
As you might imagine Kruger was not used well in Cleveland. The Browns, additionally, paid him like a top defensive end and not a complementary piece. He has fluctuated wildly in his performance, registering 9 sacks (Ravens), then joining the Browns and putting up 4.5, 11, and 2.5 sacks. I think he would do a bit better at rotating at defensive end instead of starting at linebacker.
Kruger would be far from an immediate fix to the defense, but signing him and Freeney would be a major improvement over hoping Vic Beasley turns into a double-digit sack artist this season.
OG Geoff Schwartz
It seems as if Schwartz is always between injuries, but has proven time and time again to be a very effective guard when healthy. He is reportedly healthy but the Lions made a cap decision and got rid of the veteran guard. The Falcons have been rotating guards for years and Schwartz could give Alex Mack some help. He should come cheap.
DT Terrence Knighton
The big nose tackle has been lovingly referred to as "Pot Roast" throughout his career. He should be a space-eater but in the last season or two his play has fallen off dramatically. There were rumors his roster spot was in danger after getting pushed around in the trenches... and here we are.
What did Dave have to say?
Will say no https://t.co/IecDLxRR40— The Falcoholic (@TheFalcoholic) August 29, 2016
I'll agree here. Tyson Jackson has looked decent enough. After Knighton learns the playbook, his improvement across the season would likely be pretty small unless Dan Quinn can get him back to his Pro Bowl form. That feels unlikely.
S Major Wright
Wright isn't the best safety in the NFL--I guess I shouldn't have to type that, given that the Buccaneers just cut him--but if the Falcons want to pile more veteran depth on at a young position group, Wright would be a solid enough signing. Given that they just got Goldson, though, we'll file this under unlikely, too.
DE Quinton Coples
CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson
The Falcons have been having a grand old time converting tall wide receivers to cornerback, but if they'd like to take a flyer on a living, breathing NFL cornerback who is over six feet tall, they could do well than Wreh-Wilson, who is legitimately physical but needs some considerable tuning up in terms of coverage skills.
More cuts coming
The deadline hasn't come yet, but the Falcons should be working their phones all day long Tuesday if there's anyone they like. We'll have to see, especially with the team effectively having no healthy running backs for the fourth preseason game.