The Falcons had yet to sign anyone to help out a shaky outside linebacker group this offseason, but it was always only a matter of time. The question was how many intriguing pass rushers the team could and would add in free agency versus the draft with their budget, and we now know the answer is at least one.
Lorenzo Carter penned a farewell message to the Giants and their fans after spending the past four season there, and it turns out he did so because he was landing with the Falcons. The former third-round pick out of Georgia ought to have a significant role for this Atlanta defense.
The Falcons are getting a 26-year-old outside linebacker coming off a campaign where he posted five sacks in 14 games, with four of them coming at the end of the season as he heated up. The Atlanta native has 14.5 career sacks over four seasons and has a knack for pass deflections, racking up 15 over that span. He hasn’t had elite production to this point, in other words, but he is quick, aggressive and has improved as a defender against the run, making him a fairly well-rounded player. Carter has missed at least one game in every season, however, and still has work to do in order to turn all of his ability into consistent production as a pass rusher.
For all that, he would’ve ranked first on the Falcons in sacks a year ago and second in pressures (as measured by Pro Football Reference), and this team’s outside linebacker group is basically the promising Adetokunbo Ogundeji and a proven useful reserve in James Vaughters. Even if the Falcons add more help via free agency or (more likely) the draft, Carter should have a real role, and if he blossoms in Atlanta this year it’ll help the pass rush tremendously and set him up to get paid in 2023.
We’ll hope Carter’s best days of football are ahead of him in Atlanta, but regardless he’s a solid signing for a Falcons team that desperately needed the help. Please give him a warm welcome.