There’s a long offseason ahead, and it’s unlikely in the extreme that many of the players the Falcons are signing to reserve/future contracts now are going to wind up being major contributors for the team down the line. All that said, it’s hard not to feel like the Falcons are doing genuinely interesting things with their January signings.
After bringing aboard a pair of ex-CFLers with genuine upside, particularly highly regarded cornerback Dee Alford, the Falcons added pass rusher Duke Ejiofor to the mix on a reserve/future deal Thursday.
We have signed OLB Duke Ejiofor to a reserve/future contract.— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) January 13, 2022
Ejiofor will be 27 in 2021 and has 12 career games under his belt, all of them in 2018 with the Texans. He was a highly productive college pass rusher, putting up a combined 18.5 sacks over his junior and senior seasons, and that got him drafted as a project by the Texans. Unfortunately after putting up a sack and looking pretty good in his rookie season, Ejiofor lost both 2019 and 2020 to season-ending injuries. He was waived in June 2021 with a failed physical designation and has been trying to latch on with a team since.
The Falcons are that team. They worked him out in late December and must have liked what they saw, and if Ejiofor is healthy he’s well worth taking a longer look at this spring and summer. Remember, the team’s outside linebacker group is essentially just Adetokunbo Ogundeji, Ejiofor, Quinton Bell and Jordan Brailford at this point, and while the offseason is going to change that and change it significantly, having one or two affordable veterans who can offer you 10-20 quality snaps per game is still critically important. Out of everyone the Falcons have added this month, Ejiofor feels like he has the best chance to do that, and Eric Robinson liked him as a rotational option heading into the 2018 NFL Draft.
If even a handful of these players hit—if Willie Beavers can be the team’s swing tackle, if Ejiofor can be a useful rotational outside linebacker, if Alford is even a high-end reserve—it will make a huge difference for a team starved for quality depth. Let’s hope they do, and give Ejiofor a warm welcome.