Falcons allowed De'Vondre Campbell to test free-agent market in the hopes of still signing the linebacker.
Photo: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Cover 9@9: Falcons must still be in the hunt for Campbell 

Welcome to the Cover 9@9 blog — our weekly list of nine things that you need to know about the Atlanta Falcons.

1. The No-spin zone:  The Falcons must still be in the running for outside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell.

Both sides have been mum as things have preceded slowly for outside linebackers at the start of the 2020 free agency period.

The Falcons allowed Campbell to reach free agency and let the market set his value. They were hopeful that he could return. 

As of Tuesday evening, only seven outside linebackers have been signed. 

Carolina’s Mario Addison agreed to a three-year $30.4 million deal with Buffalo to reunite with former Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott.

New England’s Jamie Collins signed a three-year, $30 million deal with Detroit.

New Orleans’ A.J. Klein signed a three-year, $18 million deal with Buffalo. 

Green Bay’s Kyler Fackrell signed a one-year, $4.6 million deal with Washington.

Former Georgia standout Thomas Davis signed a one-year deal with Washington to reunite with coach Ron Rivera.

Philadelphia’s Kamu Grugier-Hill signed a one-year deal with Miami. 

Falcons linebacker coach Jeff Ulbrich would welcome Campbell back with open arms. 

But the issue would be if the Falcons would pay Campbell enough to return. 

2. Pass rush market. According to spotrac, the Falcons only have only $9.8 million under the salary cap after all of their moves. A total of $6.4 million is for the rookie class, which would leave $3.4 million.

That’s not enough to play in the pass-rush free agency game without restructuring some contracts. 

The Bears agreed to a five-year, $70 million deal with Robert Quinn

The Dolphins agreed to a three-year, $30 million deal with Shaq Lawson. 

Emmanuel Ogbah received two years and $15 million from the Dolphins.

Stephen Weatherly got at two-year, $12.5 million deal from Carolina, while former Falcon Vic Beasley signed a one-year deal worth up to $12.5 million. 

Jadeveon Clowney (projected to receive $20 million a year), Dante Fowler ($14.8 million), Leonard Floyd ($13.9 million)  and Markus Golden ($13.5 million) are the remaining top pass rushers on the open market.

“That’s an expensive position,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff acknowledged at the combine. 

The Falcons know they have to ramp up the pass rush. 

“We are going to continue to focus in that area,” Dimitroff said. “There are opportunities to do that whether if it’s potentially in free agency or in the draft.”

Looks like the draft.

4. Make a trade. The Falcons have Jacksonville general manager David Caldwell’s phone number and Yannick Ngakoue wants out. 


 

4. Ode to Wes Schweitzer: Old Wes Schweitzer didn’t think he got a fair deal from the media (mostly me and my film reviews) here in Atlanta. “You’ve been talking (expletive) about me for four years,” he said when I approached him about his play last season.

He was playing well and coach Dan Quinn said so. Told him that it was time for some balance and fairness. 

He didn’t take me up on the offer, but I wrote the story about his play with one quote from him. 

So, good luck in D.C. 

Things kind of went downhill after this interview when he was named the starter back in 2017.

Falcons offensive lineman Wes Schweitzer discusses being named the starter at right guard. Video by D. Orlando Ledbetter

5. Falcons’ free agency tracker: With the league’s new business year set to open, here’s a look at where things stand with the Falcons’ potential unrestricted and restricted free agents:

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS 

OFFENSE 

Kenjon Barner, running back
Matt Schaub, quarterback – Club picked up his option, according to his agent.
Justin Hardy, wide receiver - Will not re-sign with team
Austin Hooper, tight end – Will be allowed to hit the market. Has agreed to terms with the Browns
Matt Simms, quarterback 
Keith Smith, fullback – Was re-signed to a three-year deal on Saturday, March 14
Wes Schweitzer, offensive guard/center – Will be allowed to hit the market. Set to sign with Washington
Ty Sambrailo, tackle - Released by the team on March 16
Devonta Freeman - Cut by the team on March 17
Luke Stocker, tight end - To be released pending a physical

DEFENSE

Vic Beasley, defensive end/linebacker – Will not be re-signedWill join Titans on a one-year deal 
De'Vondre Campbell, linebacker – Will be allowed to hit the market 
Adrian Clayborn, defensive end 
Jack Crawford, defensive tackle
Johnathan Cyprien, safety
Tyeler Davison, defensive tackle - Agrees to three-year deal 
Ra’Shede Hageman, defensive tackle – Waived by the team on Jan. 13
Kemal Ishmael, safety/linebacker – Will not be re-signed by Falcons 
Steven Means, defensive end - Re-signed to a one-year contract on March 9
Sharrod Neasman, safety 
Jamar Taylor, cornerback 
John Wetzel, offensive lineman – Vested veteran contract terminated and then re-signed.
J.J. Wilcox, safety 
Blidi Wreh-Wilson, cornerback
Desmond Trufant - Released by team 

SPECIAL TEAMS 

Matt Bosher, punter 
Ryan Allen, punter – Signed to a one-year contract extension for $945,000 on Feb. 18
Sam Irwin-Hill, punter – Signed to a one-year contract worth $510,000

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS 

OFFENSE

Brian Hill, running back - Falcons place tender

DEFENSE

Michael Bennett, defensive tackle

SPECIAL TEAMS 

Younghoe Koo, placekicker – Signed a one-year contract extension for $660,000 on Feb. 18.

6. Poll vote: The Falcons fans approved — 58.3 to 41.7 — of the trade for tight end Hayden Hurst, the former first round pick from South Carolina. He will replace Austin Hooper and is set to make just $1.75 million over the next two seasons. The Falcons couldn’t afford Hooper at the $10.5 million per year that Cleveland paid him over four seasons.

Hope Hooper has a heavy winter coat. He will have plenty of cash to buy one.  


 

7. Beasley to the Titans: Beasley, the eighth overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft, has agreed to a one-year deal to sign with the Tennessee Titans, according to his agents. 

Beasley was allowed to become a free agent after five seasons with the Falcons.

After playing his rookie season with a torn labrum, Beasley had 15.5 sacks during his second season as he helped the Falcons reach Super Bowl 51. After teams adjusted to his speed rushes, Beasley was slow to add counter moves. He was held to five sacks in 2017 and 2018.

In 2019, Beasley started to embrace using more than just his speed and was moved around from the left to the right side. He finished with eight sacks. 

8. Ryan makes donation: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is donating $100,000 to Atlanta-based organization to help with relief during the coronavirus outbreak

Ryan’s donation will be equally distributed to two charitable organizations: Atlanta Community Food Bank, which provides foods to the needy, and Giving Kitchen, which offers emergency assistance to food service workers.

“Obviously there’s a ton of stuff going on right now with a lot of areas that need a lot of help, and we certainly have a lot of friends in the restaurant and food industry here in Atlanta,” Ryan said in quotes provided by his public relations firm. “We felt like Giving Kitchen is a unique and cool organization that has helped different restaurants, people in that industry. We thought it would create awareness for one of the industries that’s going to struggle during this time.

“The Atlanta food bank is obviously another organization that does a great job. Certainly, there is a great need for funding there. It made sense for us to try and make a small impact.”

Over the years, Ryan and his wife, Sarah, have been heavily involved in the community through the Boys and Girls clubs and by raising money for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. 

“These places aren’t getting their typical income, so hopefully this helps the workers get through a little bit of a difficult time,” Ryan said. “We’re not sure how long this is going be or how slow it’s going to be during this time. Hopefully, we can help people get through the next week or two to help cover their bases.

“You’ve got to be prepared for whatever comes up. As this point, while the offseason program is important to us, I think there are more important things in society that we need to take care of. I think that’s where everybody’s head is at during this time.”

9. Depth chart: After the moves on the opening day of the tampering period, here’s a look at the Falcons’ depth chart: 

OFFENSE

WR 11 Julio Jones, 13 Christian Blake, 19 Devin Gray
LT 70 Jake Matthews, 75 John Wetzel 
LG 73 Matt Gono, 77 James Carpenter, 64 Sean Harlow
C 51 Alex Mack
RG 63 Chris Lindstrom, 68 Jamon Brown
RT 76 Kaleb McGary, 74 Ty Sambrailo, 
TE 81 Hayden Hurst, 87 Jaeden Graham, 85 Carson Meier
WR 18 Calvin Ridley, 83 Russell Gage, 17 Olamide Zaccheaus, 15 Brandon Powell
QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 Matt Schaub, 6 Kurt Benkert, 16 Danny Etling 
RB 32 Qadree Ollison, 25 Ito Smith, 23 Brian Hill (restricted), 42 Craig Reynolds
FB 40 Keith Smith 

DEFENSE

DE 56 Steven Means, 55 Austin Larkin
DT 97 Grady Jarrett,
DT 96 Tyeler Davison, 94 Deadrin Senat
DE 93 Allen Bailey, 50 John Cominsky
DE 99 Takk McKinley 91 Jacob Tuioti-Mariner
LB 54 Foyesade Oluokun
LB 45 Deion Jones, 52 Ahmad Thomas
CB 26 Isaiah Oliver, 43 Jamar Taylor, 39 C.J. Reavis 
CB 20 Kendall Sheffield, 28 Jordan Miller
SS 22 Keanu Neal, 35 Jamal Carter 
FS 27 Damontae Kazee, 37 Ricardo Allen 

SPECIALISTS

K 7 Younghoe Koo
KO 7 Younghoe Koo
P 9 Ryan Allen, 9 Sam Irwin-Hill
LS 47 Josh Harris
H 9 Ryan Allen
KOR Open 
PR Open 

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About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter
D. Orlando Ledbetter
D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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