Atlanta Falcons could regret not signing Danny Trevathan or Jerrell Freeman
Spending money wasn’t an issue for the Atlanta Falcons, but they may regret not using it on a linebacker.
Using free agency effectively was crucial for the Atlanta Falcons this offseason. With just five selections in this year’s draft but a whole host of needs throughout the roster, finding help on the open market was necessary.
Yet looking back, will the Falcons rue not adequately fixing the need at linebacker? A problem area on defense last season was not only getting after the quarterback, but dropping into coverage. Fixing one of these issues would have made sense in free agency.
To land a top pass rusher like Malik Jackson or Olivier Vernon, the Falcons would have needed to break the bank and spend money they didn’t have. But to find an upgrade at linebacker, they were staring at two affordable options — Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman — both of whom landed at the Chicago Bears.
Trevathan played a key role in the Broncos’ Super Bowl run and signed a four-year deal worth a modest $6.13 million per year. Freeman’s average salary is just $4 million on a three-year contract. Both players were very much in range.
Missing out on Trevathan and Freeman is somewhat tough to stomach when you consider what either player would have done for Dan Quinn’s defense. Atlanta was happy to throw money at center Alex Mack and wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, overpaying for the pair of them.
Mack is a clear upgrade at center, but his five-year deal worth $45 million with $28.5 million guaranteed is simply mind-boggling. His best play is behind him, and the contract was offered largely on his reputation as opposed to what he can bring to Atlanta based on recent play. Mack didn’t play at the same high level we’ve come to expect in 2015 — he was ranked 13th among centers by Pro Football Focus.
Sanu, too, was brought in by necessity. The Falcons needed a wide receiver to complement Julio Jones, but I’m not so sure they couldn’t have found a rookie at a similar level on day two of the draft. Instead, they handed him more guaranteed cash than Jordy Nelson, T.Y. Hilton and Randall Cobb were given.
There is no bigger need on this team than pass rush. But now there’s a realistic chance the Falcons will take a coverage linebacker with the 17th overall pick.
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By signing either Trevathan or Freeman, Atlanta’s defense would not only have been significantly upgraded, but it would have eased the pressure on the draft.
There’s no doubting the roster improved (and overpaid) in free agency, but it could have been a lot better.