The Atlanta Falcons inked two pass rushers to end day 1
Despite signing arguably the best center in the NFL in Alex Mack, the Atlanta Falcons’ biggest need remained the same. their pass rush.
Four hours into free agency’s 4:00 p.m. start time the Falcons inked former Miami Dolphins pass rusher Derrick Shelby to a 4-year deal with a base salary of $18 million. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the deal has $7.5 million in guaranteed money heading into Shelby’s bank account and could potentially wind up being worth $22 million if he were to play out all four years of his contract.
What’s great about this contract is the fact that nobody saw it coming. No reports showed that the Falcons had poked interest in the 27-year-old. Shelby was signed by the Dolphins in 2012 after going undrafted out of Utah.
Shelby was the No. 23 ranked defensive end in 2015 out of 110 players according to PFF.com and was the No. 9 ranked defensive end against the run. Many view Shelby to be one of the most underrated edge rushers in the NFL and at less than $5 million a season, his continuous growth and potential to grow into a full-time starter is well worth the investment.
This move likely means that Vic Beasley will move back to the right side of the defensive line which would allow Shelby to play a lot of LDE. This is also a nod to Dan Quinn and the Falcons wanting to be faster up front. Quinn could be moving away from playing a lot of strong side defensive end with the Shelby addition.
Signing Shelby was a very unexpected and exciting move but that wasn’t the only pass rusher they inked Wednesday night.
The Falcons re-signed defensive end Adrian Clayborn to a 2-year deal with a base value of $9 million but could reach as much as $14 million if everything falls into place. (which rarely happens)
Clayborn signed a 1-year deal in 2015 in what many believed to be a prove-it deal. Well, Clayborn proved that he deserved something more and was rewarded with a very comfortable 2-year deal. Clayborn did the most damage as being a sub package player. He isn’t all that effective as a full-time starter s expect his 2015 role to be pretty much the same in 2016.
He is a lot more effective while playing on the outside rather than on the inside and should complement the Falcons’ host of pass rushers very well. Despite signing two pass rushers on day-1 of free agency, expect the Falcons to use their first-round pick on an edge rusher as well.