Atlanta Falcons: 15 best free agent acquisitions of all-time

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Allen Rossum, Atlanta Falcons
Allen Rossum, Atlanta Falcons. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

Allen Rossum. 7. player. 44. . KR/PR/CB. (2002-06)

Allen Rossum is one of the best Falcons from the Michael Vick era (2001-06). Despite being one of the very best at what he did, he gets overlooked a bit because what he did best occurred on special teams.

Rossum had been a third-round pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1999 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame. After two years in the City of Brotherly Love, Rossum would be traded to the Green Bay Packers. Two seasons later, Rossum would hit free agency and join the team he is best known playing for in the Falcons.

Rossum arrived in Atlanta in 2002, the same year that Vick emerged as the full-time starting quarterback. That magical year in Atlanta saw the Falcons beat Rossum’s former team in the Packers on the road in Lambeau Field in the NFC Wild Card round. This was the first home playoff loss in the history of the Packers.

Rossum also played a little bit of cornerback for the Falcons, but it was in the return game where he shined the most. In 2003, he led the league in punt return yards with 545 on 39 attempts, including one that he took to the house for a touchdown.

As part of the NFC South Championship team in 2004, Rossum would make his only career trip to the Pro Bowl. He had 37 punt returns for 457 yards and a touchdown, as well as 58 kickoff returns for 1,250 yards. At his peak, Rossum was the fastest player in the NFL, and the only player on the Falcons faster than Vick.

After the 2006 NFL season, Rossum would leave again in free agency to sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, he never played anywhere for more than a season for the rest of his career. He spent the 2008 NFL season with the San Francisco 49ers and spilt his shortened 2009 campaign with his hometown Dallas Cowboys and the 49ers.

Rossum retired after the 2009 season at age-34. In his five years with the Falcons, he became the franchise’s leader in punt return yards with 1,723 and kickoff return yards with 5,489. During his 12-year NFL career, Rossum was able to join the exclusive 15,000 all-purpose yards club with 15,046.

Through the 2018 NFL season, there are only 37 members in this club, including five other former Falcons: Eric Metcalf (No. 16), Warrick Dunn (No. 25), Eric Dickerson (No. 31), Steven Jackson (No.34) and Tony Gonzalez (No. 35). Rossum comes in at No. 37 in the NFL record books.