Falcons' pass rush could get a boost from Dwight Freeney -- and soon

FLOWERY BRANCH -- It's the first day of Falcons' training camp, and I see no reason to hold off asking the same question we've been asking since the team decided to let go of John Abraham after the 2012 season, which coincidentally also was the last year they made the playoffs: Who's going to get to the quarterback?

The Falcons maintain today that improved speed in the secondary and at linebacker, progress by Vic Beasley and overall depth will significantly improve a pass rush that has finishing 30th, 31st and 32nd, respectively, in sacks in the past three seasons. But I suspect they're going to add one player before the season starts: Dwight Freeney.

There's a good chance Freeney will be signed in the next couple of weeks, perhaps following the Falcons' first or second exhibition games (Aug. 11 vs. Washington; Aug. 18 at Cleveland). It's not a certainty because Freeney has to decide if he wants to accept the deal the Falcons have on the table -- likely a contract loaded with incentives. But the veteran has made it clear he wants to play another season, and the Falcons appear to be his first choice.

You might ask: Why isn't Freeney here now? Answer: He doesn't need to be. He's 36 years old. There's only so much football life left in his legs. There's no reason to risk injury or wear him out in training camp practices and meaningless preseason games. If signed, Freeney would play on only passing downs and mentor Beasley and other young linemen. He would be a perfect fit for what the Falcons need.

He's obviously not the player he was in Indianapolis (three All-Pro seasons; seven Pro Bowls; 100-plus sacks). But he had eight sacks in only 11 games with Arizona last season, and those eight sacks would've made him the Falcons' leader in 2015 -- by four. The Falcons would take eight sacks again.

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About the Author

Jeff Schultz
Jeff Schultz
Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.