Atlanta promised to dig deep in free agency to find bargain additions at critical positions. and their silence to this point suggests that digging will take some time and energy. Their first reported free agent visit in 2021 would fit the mold here and give Atlanta a useful veteran, which is about all we can and should expect at the moment.
Enter Brandon Copeland, the former Patriot and Jet, who would join up as a linebacker in Dean Pees’ new defense. The soon-to-be 30 year old offers special teams value—he’s played more than 40% of his team’s special teams snaps in 4 of the past 5 seasons—and offers an ability to get after the passer that teams haven’t exploited enough at prior stops. He’ll be a reserve in Atlanta if he signs, but hopefully a useful one.
Copeland had a small role in New England, playing just 6 games last year. He played 12 for the Jets the year prior, putting up 1.5 sacks and getting suspended four games for performance enhancing substance policy violations, but showed out a bit in 2018 when he managed 5 sacks and 27 pressures in 16 games. He’s been chasing that since without coming close, and a skeptic would wonder if that was a one year fluke.
Even if it is, he’s a solid all-around player who would be the team’s fourth linebacker and would likely be deployed as a part-time pass rushing option in 3-4 fronts under Pees, as well as a prominent part of the special teams unit under Marquice Williams. The team could certainly use all of those things, especially if it comes at a price that fits easily under their strained cap. It’s not an exciting potential signing for Atlanta, but then, not many of them are going to be this offseason. We’ll see if the Falcons bring him on.