Ron Parker was one of the team’s big free agent priorities back when Dan Quinn first arrived in Atlanta, and it wasn’t difficult to understand why. He’s a legitimately talented safety with the speed to play cornerback, and it was no surprise when the Chiefs essentially outbid Atlanta. The Falcons “settled” for Ricardo Allen at free safety, he turned out to be a terrific player, and the Falcons added Keanu Neal to give them a formidable starting duo.
Parker, meanwhile, went on to have three solid seasons in Kansas City before finding himself facing free agency this year. He was a 16 game starter in two of the last three seasons, one who managed six interceptions, 28 pass deflections, five sacks and three forced fumbles in 47 total games. While he didn’t have his best season a year ago, he was still more than good enough to be a starter for a quality Kansas City defense.
I noted months ago that Parker was someone to watch for Atlanta because of that interest and Parker’s ability to help, but I figured the safety market would eventually pick back up and another team would scoop him up. Instead, the Falcons wound up with one of the three or four best safeties on the open market, a starting-caliber player, in late June. That’s nuts.
It’s also going to help justifiably kick the hype machine for this defense into high gear. With Parker in the fold (plus Damontae Kazee, who showed well last year), the Falcons now have four safeties who can start without the team suffering overmuch. That will allow them to run more three safety sets, and Parker could potentially even dabble at corner if the Falcons see any injuries. The secondary is absurdly deep and talented this year, even for a team that has boasted great ones in the past, and there’s a solid chance that Parker won’t even start a single game for Atlanta.
Considering one of the last major questions of the offseason concerned who would be the team’s fourth safety option, we’re now left to simply contemplate the fullback battle, see how the non-Grady Jarrett options at defensive tackle fare, and hope for good health and quality performances from the offensive line. This team is stacked, and somehow they just keep getting better.