Super Bowl-winning NT could help Falcons defensive line

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A Super Bowl-winning defensive lineman “could help” the Falcons in free agency.

Grady Jarrett signed a lucrative contract extension to stay with the Atlanta Falcons, but that doesn’t mean the team won’t add another beefy lineman to its defensive front this offseason.

Jarrett has played center a lot in 2021, but he’s not an ideal nose tackle. Rather than absorbing double and even triple teams, Jarrett is most effective when allowed to attack a single gap and push the pocket.

Freeing up Jarrett to play a more offensive role should be a priority for Atlanta defensive coordinator Dean Pees. That could happen if the Falcons add a real nose tackle that can keep blockers busy and give Jarrett and the new rushers on the roster more one-on-one matchups.

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Luckily, there remains one player in the free agent market who fits the job description perfectly. He won a Super Bowl with a classic, space-consuming 0 technique, and a Falcons reporter thinks the veteran “could help” that front seven.


Well traveled DT perfect for hawks

Answering questions for his weekly online mailer, Falcons Digital editor Scott Bair was asked who the team could still sign for both sides of the trenches. Bair said, “Danny Shelton or former Bear (just following the trends here) Eddie Goldman could help defensive inside.”

The reference to “trends” is telling because of Ryan Pace’s presence in the Falcons’ front office. Former Chicago Bears general manager Pace assists Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot and has previously overseen the acquisition of several former Bears, including wide receiver Damiere Byrd, running back Damien Williams, lineman offense Germain Ifedi and linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski.

Pace’s connection naturally makes Eddie Goldman an option, but Shelton is the more intriguing choice. The 12th pick in the 2015 NFL Draft has certainly done the rounds for six seasons in the NFL. It is suitable for the Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots, Detroit Lions and New York Giants.

Shelton’s most successful spell came as a member of the Patriots, which he helped beat Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in Super Bowl LIII:

He was able to anchor a three-man line in the multiple version of the 3-4 defense favored by Pats head coach Bill Belichick. Pees, who served as Belichick’s defensive coordinator for four seasons from 2006-09, runs the same pattern with the Falcons.

It didn’t always work out for Jarrett, who often found himself at the center of great attention last season:

Placing Shelton in the center would allow Pees to move Jarrett outside towards the defensive end. This would have two advantages for the Falcons.

First, it would solidify a soft running defense. Second, it would give Pees’ timid defense the ability to generate greater pressure from the edges.


Jarrett more valuable on the outside

There’s a reason the Falcons paid Jarrett $51 millioneven after a season where he produced just 28 tackles and a sack:

He wasn’t at his best, but Jarrett is a real game breaker when he’s in good shape. He didn’t win a pair of Pro-Bowl berths by accident.

Jarrett is also a very disruptive passing thrower when allowed to play to his strengths. He recorded 11.5 sacks in the 2019 and 20 seasons. Jarrett also beat Tom Brady three times when the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead to lose 34-28 to the Patriots in Super Bowl LI.

The Falcons need this version of Jarrett to help revive a passing rush that recorded just 18 sacks a year ago. Much of the offseason has been spent on Fontenot improving the rushers available to Pees.

Fontenot’s efforts gave the Giants’ Lorenzo Carter free agency, while the second and third rounds of the draft produced Arnold Ebiketie and DeAngelo Malone, respectively. This trio’s chances of putting more heat on quarterbacks in 2022 will be better if Jarrett plays on the outside.

Jarrett can hold offensive tackles and let outside linebackers like Carter and Ebiketie grapple with running backs and tight ends. It should be a game win for the Falcons defense every time.

Another area where the Falcons need better matchups is in run defense. Pees’ unit allowed the sixth-most rushing yards in the league, 2,242, along with 19 rushing touchdowns last season.

Shelton and his 345-pound frame would surely make it harder for opposing running backs to average 4.3 yards per carry this quarter. The 28-year-old knows how to play vertically and stifle rushing attempts at their source, like on this game where the Pats beat the Rams, for CLNS Media Network’s Evan Lazar:

Signing Shelton to a short-term deal late in free agency is one of the smartest moves the Falcons could make at this point in the offseason. According to Sportrac.com, there is still $12,358,927 of space left under the salary cap, more than enough to add a player who would transform both phases of the Falcons defense and revitalize one of the few elite players in the league. listing.

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