As NFL teams work through mini-camps and OTAs and move toward training camp, they will begin to think about holes they want to fill with budget-friendly veteran free agents before the start of the season. I was thinking about this when looking at a list of players still on the market and how some of them might fit in with the Falcons.
So with that, three names to debate (well, two, anyway):
• Dwight Freeney: Yes, I know Falcons coach Dan Quinn covets speed. Yes, I know Freeney is 36. Yes, I know 36 is ancient by NFL standards. But I also know this: Freeney had eight sacks and three forced fumbles in 11 games with Arizona last season. That would've doubled -- doubled -- the total of the highest Falcons' pass rusher last season . Top Atlanta sackers: Vic Beasley (4), Adrian Clayborn (3), Kroy Biermann (2.5), O'Brien Schofield (2). Freeney could be a situational pass rusher. All I'm saying is, how do you not even consider this guy? Sports Illustrated's Peter King spoke to Freeney recently. Via King's MMQB column :
Freeney is determined to play one more season. He’s turned down TV feelers this off-season because he wants GMs and coaches to know he’s all-in on the NFL for 2016. “I’m still having fun,” he said. “Why stop? I still have the fire to play. My body feels great. I still have more to give.”
• Greg Hardy: Based on pure talent, he's easily the best remaining player on the market and he plays a position (defensive end) where almost every team needs help. So should the Falcons sign him. No? Will they? No - for the same reasons no other team has signed him yet. He's a cretin, was a divisive figure on the Dallas Cowboys last season, does not give full effort, shows no remorse for past domestic violence issues and seems more concerned with repairing his image the disingenuous way: With PR spin. Agent Drew Rosenhaus has told teams that Hardy is undergoing counseling to deal with his behavioral issues. While I'm guessing that one owner at some point will break down and sign Hardy, no team wants to deal with the public relations bashing it will take to sign him and considers him not worth the effort. Put it this way: When even Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wants nothing to do with you anymore, who's left?
• Walter Thurmond: The cornerback/safety played four years in Seattle (and for Quinn, who was the Seahawks' defensive coordinator). He also played one each with the New York Giants and Philadelphia, and reportedly has drawn interest from some teams. But there are unconfirmed reports that he is leaning toward retirement at the age of only 28 (he turns 29 in August). Last season with the Eagles, Thurmond had three interceptions, seven passes defensed, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and two sacks. He would be a nice veteran presence on the back end for the Falcons, who've been rebuilding with youth, should he decide to play in 2016.
Recent ramblings from the Digital Jukebox
- Do Braves, Falcons, Hawks inspire confidence in future? I rank them
- Poll: Which Atlanta team inspires most, least confidence in future?
- Make that 1-16 for Braves at home (where the heartache is)
- Gonzalez handling turmoil better than most (if you don't count towel rack assault)
- Five thoughts about Ressler, Horford and Hawks moving forward
- Hawks need major change, lack a go-to star
- Hello, Game 4. Goodbye, Hawks' season? History says yes
- When Hawks' season wrap up, Mike Budenholzer may need some help
- Hawks better but Cavaliers are on another level
- There's a kernel of truth to what Charles Barkley says about Hawks
- Rest of series for Hawks is about big picture
- It's about time Coppolella, Hart take ownership of Braves' problems
- Falcons have issues but Blank may be right about playoff projection
- Full Q&A with Arthur Blank on his health, draft and playoffs
- Arthur Blank: Falcons will be playoff team in 2016
- Magic Johnson pitches for LeBron, Durant to Lakers (uh, tampering?)
- Breaking! Hawks are big underdogs to LeBron James, Cavaliers
- Hawks' defense gets its stiffest test: LeBron James
- One for the history books: Hawks eliminate Celtics
- Have Hawks figured out winning formula?
- Hawks stood tall by going small vs. Celtics
- Falcons needs to get it right with defensive picks
- Braves reportedly have tried to trade Olivera (who has zero value)
- One-man basketball won't get job done for Hawks
- As Hawks look to rebound, some thoughts on Game 4 vs. Celtics
- Hawks would be wise to stay cool after Thomas' slap
- Hawks' Schroder: 'I'm not going to let nobody slap me in my face'
- Hawks not making it easy on themselves
- Hawks will try to buck history in Game 3 against Boston
- Bigger surprise than Braves' record: Freeman hitting .163
- Liberty CEO's comments reaffirm: Braves need new ownership
- Matt Ryan says he's confident in Kyle Shanahan, Falcons' offense
- Only one side of Olivera-Wood trade is around for Braves-Dodgers series
- Jacob Eason good but 93,000 is real highlight of Georgia's spring
- Hawks go into playoffs knowing changes to core may be ahead
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