If the Atlanta Falcons do bring back veteran defensive end Dwight Freeney, someone will lose their job. Who could that someone be?
By now we’ve all seen the rumors: Defensive end Dwight Freeney wants to sign with the Atlanta Falcons. There’s mutual interest between him and the team. But wait – Dan Quinn hasn’t actually talked to him about playing. But if he does sign, whose place does he take on the team?
Not long ago, I did an article projecting the team’s final 53-man roster. Using that as a guideline, here’s who I think could wind up losing their job to Freeney…
Terron Ward – he doesn’t bring anything better or different to the table than Devonta Freeman or Tevin Coleman, other return skills. Rookie Brian Hill adds a size and power dimension Freeman and Coleman lack, and Special Teams coach Keith Armstrong has talked about trying Hill out as a returner.
Devin Fuller – Fuller’s no real lock to make the roster, anyway. His biggest strength was return skills, but that’s the main reason the Falcons signed Andre Roberts.
Robert Leff – well, Leff has already been cut, so this is a little obvious. So, instead, let’s just say that signing Freeney could lead the Falcons to only keep eight offensive lineman on the active roster instead of nine.
Brooks Reed or Adrian Clayborn are popular choices, as they both play the same position Freeney does. Reed’s salary and his being a converted to linebacker from defensive end are often held against him, whereas Clayborn’s difficulty in staying healthy is his biggest criticism. However, I think Quinn values depth and the ability to rotate defensive linemen as much as possible, so I think those two would actually be safe if Freeney were to return for another season with the Falcons.
Of course the first domino to fall would have to be Freeney actually returning to the Atlanta Falcons for one more year.