Iloka or Nelson could replace William Moore

FLOWERY BRANCH – After releasing starting strong safety William Moore, the Falcons are seeking to replace him free agency.

The team has been linked to free agent safeties George Iloka and Reggie Nelson.

Iloka is the preferred candidate. The former Cincinnati Bengal is 6-foot-4, 225 pounds and has played just four years in the NFL.

Nelson, the former Florida Gator, is 32. He’s spent the past six seasons with the Bengals. Both are also coveted by Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer, who was their former defensive coordinator in Cincinnati.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn wants a better man-to-man coverage safety than Moore, who played strong in run support, but was a liability in coverage. The Falcons have struggled covering tight ends for years, now.

“For me, it’s one of the real important parts of our defense,” Quinn said at the combine. “You’ve heard me talk about it from the tackling standpoint, our safety is involved in man-to-man quite a bit on third down. When to pressure and when don’t you and where are the matchups? So for us, strong safety is a man-to-man coverage and tackling position. Those are some of the traits at that spot in specific.”

Iloka was a fifth-round pick out of Boise State in 2012. He’s started 44 of 51 games played with the Bengals.

Nelson was a first-round pick by Jacksonville in 2007. He’s adjusted his style of play over the years with the change in the defenseless player and strike zone rules. He finished with career-high eight interceptions last season.

Iloka’s estimated free agency market value is $5.6 millIion per season and Nelson’s is $4.8 million by

Quinn is happy with his free safeties.

“I was really pleased with the progress at the free safety position with Ricardo Allen and (Robenson) Therezie,” Quinn said. “Both of those guys went for it in a really good way. Both of them had experience outside and then to teach them and have them learn how to play middle field defense, which was new for both of them, was really good. I thought Marquand, specifically did a really good job of helping both of those guys develop.”

Kemal Ishmael finished up last season as the starter. The Falcons also used Charles Godfrey, who’s set to become an unrestricted free agent, but may still return.

“Godfrey potentially is someone who we can have back,” Quinn said. “As we go through the process of looking, I know there are some good candidates. It’s a really important one because of the tackling and because of the coverage that happens on third down, it’s one that has my attention for sure.”