Earlier at Falconmaven we discussed the need to bring in at least one veteran at cornerback via free agency to lend some experience to what is a very young position group. The Falcons have a similar problem at defensive end. Steven Means and Vic Beasley are the veterans of the position while Takk McKinley is heading into his third season.
The Falcons will definitely address this position in the draft, just as they will at cornerback, but this is a team whose window to contend is open only as long as Matt Ryan continues to play quarterback at an elite level. Young depth is great to have but finding a veteran defensive end in the second week of free agency will go a long way towards taking advantage of that open window. There are still some names worth signing that can be brought in at a cap friendly price.
Last year Aaron Lynch signed a one-year ‘prove it’ contract with the Chicago Bears. In 13 games, three starts, he recorded three sacks and an interception, four tackles for loss and eight quarterback hits for one of the best defenses in the NFL. He’s a solid defensive end rotation option and still available for the Falcons.
Another option who seems to be flying under everyone’s radar is former Arizona Cardinals Benson Mayowa. He signed a one-year deal with the Cardinals last year and in 15 games, four starts, registered four sacks, 38 combined tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hits and four passes defended. He’ll be 28 heading into next season and may be the hidden gem among an average crop of free agent defensive ends.
Finally, and it’s surprising the Falcons haven’t done this yet, is bring back Bruce Irvin for a full season in Atlanta. In eight games with the Falcons last year he had three-and-a-half sacks, four tackles for loss and eight quarterback hits. He already has a comfort level on the field with the Falcons other linemen and with head coach Dan Quinn.
This is the same situation that we discussed with the cornerback position earlier. Bringing in youthful depth is great if you’re in rebuilding mode, but Thomas Dimitroff and Quinn insist this team is going for it all in 2019 which means they need more veteran depth on the edge.