Earlier this week, we talked about Saints free agents the Falcons might be interested in, given the deep ties general manager Terry Fontenot has to that team. Today, let’s talk about Titans free agents who have ties to head coach Arthur Smith and defensive coordinator Dean Pees.
There’s no shortage of interesting options. The Falcons would have to break the bank to pay at least one of these players, but if they carve out enough space, landing a top-shelf pass rusher or center would likely be worth it. If not, everyone else on this list would fit in as lower-end starters and reserves, and I’d be surprised if the team doesn’t at least sniff around a few names here.
But enough suspense, let’s talk Titans free agents.
TE Anthony Firkser
There are several reasons to think the team will strongly consider this. Their only tight end options at the moment are Kyle Pitts, Parker Hesse, John Raine and ex-CFLer Brayden Lenius, with Jaeden Graham looming as a potential easy re-signing. The team seems unlikely to stand pat with that group, but they also seem unlikely to sink significant draft capital into it.
Firkser will only be 27 years old in 2022 and is a capable receiver, having reeled in 53 receptions for 591 yards and a pair of touchdowns over two seasons with Arthur Smith running the Tennessee offense. Smith has talked up his route running and his “good edge” and it seems reasonable to think if the price is right, Firkser would be among his top choices for TE2 this coming season.
C Ben Jones
Matt Hennessy turned in an uneven year as the starter at center. I’d think the Falcons would go back to him in 2022 if they liked his progress, but it was fairly late in the season that they were trying to rotate Drew Dalman in with him.
If not, Jones could be an option. A durable, very good center, Jones will be 33 next year but has missed just one game in eight seasons and is an extremely capable blocker. Especially if the Falcons are going to try Jalen Mayfield at left guard again, it would behoove them to upgrade at center, and Jones would represent that. He won’t be cheap, though, so file this away as an unlikely signing.
RT David Quessenberry
If they elect to address the interior through the draft or by standing pat, they could instead look to tackle. Quessenberry is an incredible guy, someone who underwent years of treatment for lymphoma before completing it and returning to the field, and he is coming off his first full season as a starter. He proved to be a very capable right tackle for the Titans, and with the Falcons mulling Kaleb McGary’s future, Quessenberry could be at the very least strong competition for him. He’ll want—and get—a starter’s contract, though, which means the Falcons would need to feel very confident that he’ll beat out McGary and that McGary could step into a different role.
OLB Harold Landry
This is a bit of a pipe dream signing, but you can’t have your hand melted off your body if you don’t reach for the stars, as they say.
Landry is coming off a 12 sack season and is just 26 years old, and he’s an ideal fit as a pass rushing outside linebacker in Dean Pees’ scheme. The Falcons desperately need a real upgrade there—hell, they need several—and Landry would represent a true splash signing for this team. The lack of available cap space makes it unlikely, but cross your fingers regardless.
ILB Jayon Brown or Rashaan Evans
I wouldn’t call Brown a buy-low option if the Falcons don’t re-sign Foye Oluokun or move on from Deion Jones, because I still wouldn’t expect him to be cheap. I do think there’s an opportunity here to get a player whose stock has been dented a bit.
Under Dean Pees in 2018 and 2019, Brown had his best years, starting 23 games, piling up 112 tackles and managing seven sacks. Since then, he’s gradually faded into the background in Tennesse, having played in just 20 combined games with 16 starts (only 6 of them last year) and seeing his statistical output fall. Brown will only be 27 in 2022 and is familiar with Pees, so there’s definitely potential for a reunion here if the Falcons don’t bring back both Jones and Oluokun.
Evans, meanwhile, has been more or less a full-time starter over the past three years, but not always a very productive one.