Free agent linebacker James Laurinaitis, who visited the Saints last week but who left New Orleans without a contract,will visit the Falcons on Monday and Tuesday, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). We heard after Laurinaitis’ visit with the Saints that both sides still had some interest in getting a deal done, but now division-rival Atlanta will have a shot at adding the former Buckeye to the middle of its defense.
Laurinaitis, who was released by the Rams on February 19, had spent his entire career with the club since being selected in the second round of the 2009 draft. Since that time, he has not missed a single game, starting all 112 of the Rams’ contests at inside linebacker. He has never received a Pro Bowl nod, but he has racked up over 100 tackles in each season he has been in the league, adding 16.5 sacks and 10 interceptions in the process. However, he graded out as one of the worst linebackers in the NFL in 2015 per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required), and his performance has shown a small but steady decline over the past several seasons.
Nonetheless, he may still represent a boost for a club like the Falcons that is seeking an upgrade in the middle of its defense. Atlanta deployed Paul Worrilow, a restricted free agent, as the middle linebacker position last year, but they are clearly considering other options. Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan is also said to be high on the Falcons’ radar, and while Trevathan is a better player than Laurinaitis at this point, he would come with a higher price tag. Atlanta does, however, have over $33MM in cap room.
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