Atlanta Falcons: David Onyemata signing deserves a lot more credit

The Atlanta Falcons had a stellar free agency class last year which includes David Onyemata who has been overshadowed.

Atlanta Falcons v Tennessee Titans
Atlanta Falcons v Tennessee Titans / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages

For good reason, so much praise has gone to Jessie Bates. Bates was arguably the best free agent signing in the entire NFL last year but the Atlanta Falcons made another signing that deserves more praise than it has received.

David Onyemata came to the Falcons after several years down in that one city that shall not be named. He signed a big contract and proved to be worth every penny of it as he helped to transform the Falcons' defense.

The Atlanta Falcons deserve a lot more credit for signing David Onyemata

It was clear what the Atlanta Falcons plan was going into the offseason; build the defense through free agency and they did a pretty darn good job.

David Onyemata was their first signing as they inked him to a three-year, $35 million deal. And, if I am being perfectly honest, I wasn't the biggest fan of the move at the time but I am willing to admit that I was completely wrong.

Onyemata's impact was felt in both the run and pass game. He was routinely getting to the quarterback (even if he only had five sacks to show for it) and was clearing lanes for his teammates to make tackles.

According to Pro Football Focus, David Onyemata had 18 hurries, 11 hits, and five sacks on opposing quarterbacks. That is solid production from an interior defensive lineman who also missed a few games.

We know that run defense is harder to quantify, so let's just consider this: in the three games that Onyemata missed (W10 @ ARI, W14 vs. TB, W15 @ CAR) the Falcons gave up 399 rushing yards (133 per game). In the 14 games Onyemata did play in, they gave up an average of 115 rush yards per game.

18 yards might not seem like a big disparity but it is the difference between ranking 19th in rush yards allowed per game and 30th in the NFL last season.

The other part of this is that the defense gave up 148 rush yards to the 32nd-ranked Buccaneers rushing attack when the big DT was absent. In the first meeting between the two the Falcons and Bucs, when Onyemata was on the field, they allowed just 73 rush yards. Now, we also have to take into account that the Falcons were also missing Grady Jarrett in the second meeting.


There are many more statistics that we could dive into with the veteran defensive tackle but you get the idea. This was a home-run signing by Terry Fontenot and his staff and there should be more praise directed at the front office and the player.

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