Having already fired defensive coordinator Richard Smith and defensive line coach Bryan Cox, the Falcons are expected to use free agency and the draft in order to bolster their defensive line, according to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com.
Free agent defensive lineman Earl Mitchell is expected to meet with Atlanta on Thursday and Friday, and if signed would be the first step in the Falcons’ remaking of their front four. Courtney Upshaw, who signed a one-year pact with Atlanta last spring, is expected to re-signed, as the the Falcons value his ability to play both linebacker and defensive end, per McClure. Fourth-year defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman, meanwhile, has “won over” Atlanta’s coaching staff and figures to see his role increase going forward, while free agent tackle Terrell McClain is a “name to keep an eye on” for the Falcons this offseason, reports McClure.
Change up front also means several defenders could be leaving, and veteran tackle Jonathan Babineaux could be among them, as the Falcons could choose to part ways with the unrestricted free agent even if he opts not to retire. Tyson Jackson, too, could be gone, as McClure writes the 30-year-old is expected to be released or asked to accept a cut to his $3.5MM base salary.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.