The Falcons All-Time Free Agent Signing Sweet 16 round proceeded without any upsets, so we’re apparently all in agreement as to the identities of the eight best Falcons free agent signings of all-time. So let’s now narrow the field down to four.
We’ll keep the voting open until noon tomorrow, March 6, before we move onto the Final Four Falcons free agent face-off.
(1) RB Michael Turner (Falcons Free Agent Class of 2008) vs. (2) C Alex Mack (2016)
Some pundits have been saying that the winner of this matchup may very well be the favorite to win the tournament. So let’s break this one down a bit.
Turner joined the Falcons in 2008 in order to bring the Falcons an offensive identity under the new Dimitroff-Mike Smith regime, after the Falcons offense hit rock-bottom in 2007. “The Burner” delivered immediately, rushing for over 100 yards per game in 2008 and earning 1st-team All-Pro honors. He followed that up with four more 10+ touchdown seasons and two more 1,300+ yard seasons, with the Falcons getting to the playoffs four times during his 5-year Falcons tenure.
As for Mack, I doubt anyone reading this needs a refresher of what he brought to the table for the Falcons in 2016. But just to recap, the Falcons had some interior offensive line and snapping issues in 2015 that Mack was brought in to solve. And solve them, he did, elevating the Falcons offensive line play - and the Falcons’ offense as a whole - to previously unforeseen heights, earning a Pro Bowl berth and 2nd team All-Pro honors along the way.
Which difference-maker moves on into the Final Four? Decide below.
(1) RB Warrick Dunn (2002) vs. (2) K Morten Andersen (1995)
These two players, who were born about 15 years apart, were Falcons teammates in 2006-2007. They meet again 10 years later for an opportunity to face the winner of the Turner-Mack matchup.
Dunn’s Falcons resume includes 6 seasons played, with three 1,000 yard rushing seasons, a Pro Bowl berth in 2005, and membership in a historic 2006 Falcons rushing season that produced the most rushing yards by any NFL team during the last 40 years.
Morten Andersen’s Falcons resume now includes a Hall of Fame enshrinement - something no other player in the bracket can currently say - along with 8 seasons played, 1st team All-Pro honors in 2005, 184 converted field goals, 806 total points, and a game-winning overtime kick to send the Falcons to the Super Bowl in 1999.
(1) WR Terance Mathis (1994) vs. (2) DT Rod Coleman (2004)
Here are two players who signed with the Falcons 10 years apart and made a dramatic difference for the Falcons upon arrival. Mathis was a relatively unheralded signing, but he took the league by storm with 111 receptions for 1,342 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Coleman, meanwhile, arrived in 2004 to provide the Falcons with a dominant interior pass rush, supplying 11.5 sacks to carry the Falcons defense to an NFC Championship Game appearance.
Mathis played eight seasons for the Falcons, producing four 1,000 yard receiving seasons; Coleman played four seasons for the Falcons, finishing with 28.5 sacks. Each player has 1 Pro Bowl berth to his credit.
(1) FB Ovie Mughelli (2007) vs. (2) CB Ray Buchanan (1997)
Here’s another matchup of two players who signed with the Falcons 10 years apart. Mughelli - a 2010 Pro Bowler - was perhaps the best addition during the single Petrino off-season, as he went on to create huge holes for Michael Turner to burn his way through during Turner’s most dominant first 3.5 years in Atlanta. In a bracket loaded with free agent fullback signings, Mughelli is the last fullback standing.
Buchanan was targeted as the first big-money free agent signing by the Dan Reeves-era Falcons, and he proved to be a difference-maker, with 5 consecutive seasons of 5 interceptions or more, along with a Pro Bowl berth in 1998 when his coverage and playmaking skills helped guide the Falcons to a Super Bowl appearance.