The Atlanta Falcons appear ready to once again make defense a focus in 2016. With the secondary just about taken care off, getting pass rushing help and an elite linebacker will be priorities. The team already made moves to release Justin Durant while one-year contracts expire to leave several holes to fill. Just how big will the Falcons go to get help?
According to ESPN's Vaughn McClure, Bruce Irvin will be a target for the Falcons until he signs a deal elsewhere. Prior to the 2015 season, Irvin told media that he would be playing in Atlanta in 2016. However, he followed that up by telling reporters he would be willing to take a pay cut in order to re-sign with Seattle. The Falcons still stand a chance at getting the linebacker if they present the right contract. According to ESPN's Mike Florio, a franchise tag is not likely for Irvin meaning the Falcons remain an option, but they will have to shell out a lot of money. The options at linebacker on the market will be slim this year meaning Irvin's value increases and so does his price tag.
The same can be said for Mario Williams, another player poised to be chased by Atlanta. The defensive end from the Buffalo Bills had a down season, but put up 14.5 sacks just a year ago. According to Chris Wesseling of NFL.com, the Bills do not plan on retaining the defensive end in 2016 and he told the media that he is ready for anything at this point.
"I'm prepared for anything," Williams said, via ESPN.com, "because I know I'm going to prove a point and that is not even a question in my mind. At the end of the day, if I'm not there, I'll show you that I'm better than what I've been before. Like, that's just a chip on my shoulder regardless of whether I am there or not, because given the opportunity I'll get back to what I was."
There are other options at both the linebacker and defensive end spots on the market. No, Von Miller will not be one of them. Instead, ESPN.com suggests Derrick Johnson on a short-term deal could be favored. Chad Greenway is another solid option for the Falcons. Danny Trevathan will be a target as well after having a standout performance in the Super Bowl.
The Falcons will also take to the NFL Draft for help. The team has been linked to first-round options including Shaq Lawson, Reggie Ragland and Myles Jack. Chances are high the Falcons get at least one of those three players in the draft to add to their young and athletic line.