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Jack Crawford joins Falcons defensive end rotation on three year deal

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The veteran defensive lineman is yet another piece for what promises to be a mix-and-match group up front.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons have, as usual, signed someone out of left field. Flying under the radar has its advantages, especially when you’re apparently targeting rotational defensive ends.

Crawford, 28, was a ten game starter for the Cowboys in 2016, and played 32 games overall for Dallas over the last two seasons. He had a combined 7.5 sacks over those two seasons, and figures to join a Falcons defensive end rotation that can always use a little more pass rushing prowess.

Where does Crawford fit in Atlanta?

We don’t know the terms yet, but it’s safe to assume Crawford will slot in as a reserve. He’s an average run defender by all accounts, and despite the sack numbers, Pro Football Focus certainly didn’t love his 2016 production, ranking him 106th out of 109 qualifiers for EDGE guys. He’ll likely be getting the bulk of his snaps behind the likes of Vic Beasley, Adrian Clayborn, Derrick Shelby, and perhaps Brooks Reed.

Despite the dour outlook from PFF, Crawford is a reasonably #fast and #physical guy who has two years of decent production and some starting experience under his belt. He’s exactly the kind of player the Falcons have made a practice of targeting as they seek to build a capable rotation along the defensive front.

Depth chart implications

As noted above, I’m not expecting Crawford to compete to be a true starter, though there should be snaps for him. He’ll likely play a little end and tackle but, I suspect, more end. That is something the Falcons could use given how frequently they like to rotate guys like Courtney Upshaw, Clayborn and Shelby between end and tackle depending on the set. If he shows something more than we’ve seen to this point, maybe he’ll force his way on the field as the end opposite Beasley in nickel sets. Very speculative, though, because again this signing came out of nowhere.

All in all, this is a signing that isn’t going to move the needle much for the Falcons. We’ll see if there’s some untapped potential here the Falcons are about to tap into.