The Atlanta Falcons did not make any major moves today before the trade deadline, and the closest thing we got was the late round pick swap with the Eagles for Kentavius Street yesterday. With no big name edge rusher on the way, the Falcons are instead concentrating on replacing an injured Grady Jarrett. As I wrote the other day, that takes a village.
That village will include Travis Bell. The Kennesaw State alum was a seventh round pick for the Chicago Bears in the 2023 NFL Draft and a favorite of general manager Ryan Poles, but wound up on the practice squad after a competitive summer. At 6 feet tall, Bell is considered a bit short for the position, but we haven’t seen that discourage, say, Grady Jarrett, who stands 6’1”. The relentless nature of his game and his power are at least intriguing enough for the Falcons to poach him off the Bears practice squad.
Someone’s probably going to make room for him. The Falcons currently have David Onyemata as a surefire starter on the interior, with Calais Campbell likely joining him there more frequently, and they have Ta’Quon Graham, LaCale London, Kentavius Street, Albert Huggins, and Joe Gaziano on the roster, as well as Timothy Horne on the practice squad. The Falcons will mix and match along their front, but where Bell fits in remains to be seen with Graham, London, and Street probably the favorites to soak up reserve snaps at the moment. Huggins has been mostly phased out at this point, and Gaziano has yet to actually appear in a game on defense this season.
Still, even if Bell is hardly the splashy signing anyone hoped for, he’s certainly worth a look for an Atlanta team that wants to add as many rugged defenders as possible. In college, Bell was impressive enough to get drafted, and he’s the first player in Kennesaw State history to be picked in the NFL Draft. He’s a compact, quick, and athletic defensive tackle who endeared himself to Bears fans over the summer with his motor and flashes of real ability, and now Ryan Nielsen and the Falcons will get a chance to see if they can turn him into a contributor for a team that needs depth on the interior both now and in the future. He could have a short stay on the roster, like Eli Ankou, but if he impresses he may just push his way past some of the veterans who are already established here.
Give Bell a warm welcome to Atlanta, and we’ll see where he fits in this team’s plans for the Jarrett-less defensive line in the coming weeks.