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Will the Falcons have interest in S/LB Deone Bucannon?

The dots connect for the former Cardinal, but the Falcons don’t always do what we expect.

Arizona Cardinals v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Falcons rarely make the obvious move. At every turn during Dan Quinn’s tenure—and heck, all the way back to Mike Smith—they sign the guy you don’t expect, the guy you didn’t want, or the guy who you’d never heard of. Sometimes these moves really work out, but if it’s a no-brainer, it doesn’t tend to happen.

That’s why it may not be worth my time to bring up Deone Bucannon, but the pieces fit so neatly I can’t really help it.

Why do I think Bucannon will be on the team’s radar? A couple of reasons:

  • He was a player they were reportedly interested in all the way back in the 2014 NFL Draft. While that team was looking for something different at safety than this current Falcons team is, Bucannon ticks the boxes for Dan Quinn because he’s a plus athlete, can and has played both safety and linebacker, and can pitch in on special teams, where he played 50% of the snaps for Tampa Bay this season.
  • The Falcons have needs at both safety and linebacker, arguably. They seem incredibly reluctant to play Sharrod Neasman on defense and haven’t gotten Jamal Carter involved yet at safety, either, while Foye Oluokun has fallen out of the rotation at linebacker and Jermaine Grace is getting zero run. Getting an established veteran who can do both feels like something Quinn is after, even if (as it appears) Kemal Ishmael has a starting gig locked up.

Like Johnathan Cyprien before him, Bucannon is not going to seriously challenge incumbents at either position for a starting gig. He was misused in Arizona and isn’t quite the same player he was in 2015, with yearly declines that showcase both the caliber of the defensive staffs he was playing with and the limitations of his own ability. He could still fill in as a reserve third safety and part-time linebacker, because unless the team is ready to finally give Carter a shot, it doesn’t seem likely they’ll be turning to Neasman or T.J. McDonald, George Iloka, and the other available safeties on the market, given their light interest there.

For a lot of reasons, then, Bucannon would likely make sense as a flier and reserve in a defense that needs safety help. If he can return to the position where he showed so much promise early in his career, he might actually be a contributor for Atlanta, and his availability at this fraught moment for the Falcons makes him an interesting candidate.

But, as is the case with all moves where the pieces fit for these Falcons, don’t count on it.