As the Falcons begin to get into the swing of their potion of free agency (the one that doesn’t cost a lot of money), they’ve made an important move for their defensive line depth.
After releasing him earlier this month, Atlanta has opted to bring back DE Derrick Shelby on a one year deal, per his agent David Canter. There’s no telling whether this will rule out the team signing a Pernell McPhee or Robert Ayers, but now, the team’s rotation at end at least goes four deep.
Shelby had been released by the Falcons earlier this offseason in a cost-saving move. With vacancies filling up around the NFL, Shelby apparently was comfortable coming back and looking for a productive year to build up his value next year. He’d previously visited with with the Seattle Seahawks and Cleveland Browns.
The defensive end isn’t the world’s most prolific pass rusher, but that’s not what you pay him for. He’s a versatile piece on the defensive line that helped contribute to Atlanta’s top-ten run defense last season. After missing most of 2016 with Achilles’ injury, the former Dolphin came on strong in 2017 against opposing ground games. His 2018 cap hit was prohibitive, thus the release. But, as the Falcons got into surveying the 2018 FA landscape, they must’ve decided one of their own would be better than a new guy.
So, this is a bit of a nice surprise for those worried about the defensive line depth. Shelby’s a good piece to have around in 2018 (on a more team-friendly deal, no less), and we’re happy to see him back.