Possible vets for Falcons: Freeney, Thurmond, Hardy (not really)

Outside linebacker Dwight Freeney, who had eight sacks with Arizona last season, says he wants to play one more season. (Getty Images)

Outside linebacker Dwight Freeney, who had eight sacks with Arizona last season, says he wants to play one more season. (Getty Images)

As NFL teams work through mini-camps and OTAs and move toward training camp, they will begin to think about holes they want to fill with budget-friendly veteran free agents before the start of the season. I was thinking about this when looking at a list of players still on the market and how some of them might fit in with the Falcons.

So with that, three names to debate (well, two, anyway):

• Dwight Freeney: Yes, I know Falcons coach Dan Quinn covets speed. Yes, I know Freeney is 36. Yes, I know 36 is ancient by NFL standards. But I also know this: Freeney had eight sacks and three forced fumbles in 11 games with Arizona last season. That would’ve doubled — doubled — the total of the highest Falcons’ pass rusher last season. Top Atlanta sackers: Vic Beasley (4), Adrian Clayborn (3), Kroy Biermann (2.5), O’Brien Schofield (2). Freeney could be a situational pass rusher. All I’m saying is, how do you not even consider this guy? Sports Illustrated’s Peter King spoke to Freeney recently. Via King’s MMQB column:

Freeney is determined to play one more season. He’s turned down TV feelers this off-season because he wants GMs and coaches to know he’s all-in on the NFL for 2016. “I’m still having fun,” he said. “Why stop? I still have the fire to play. My body feels great. I still have more to give.”

• Greg Hardy: Based on pure talent, he’s easily the best remaining player on the market and he plays a position (defensive end) where almost every team needs help. So should the Falcons sign him. No? Will they? No – for the same reasons no other team has signed him yet. He’s a cretin, was a divisive figure on the Dallas Cowboys last season, does not give full effort, shows no remorse for past domestic violence issues and seems more concerned with repairing his image the disingenuous way: With PR spin. Agent Drew Rosenhaus has told teams that Hardy is undergoing counseling to deal with his behavioral issues. While I’m guessing that one owner at some point will break down and sign Hardy,  no team wants to deal with the public relations bashing it will take to sign him and considers him not worth the effort. Put it this way: When even Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wants nothing to do with you anymore, who’s left?

 • Walter Thurmond: The cornerback/safety played four years in Seattle (and for Quinn, who was the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator). He also played one each with the New York Giants and Philadelphia, and reportedly has drawn interest from some teams. But there are unconfirmed reports that he is leaning toward retirement at the age of only 28 (he turns 29 in August). Last season with the Eagles, Thurmond had three interceptions, seven passes defensed, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and two sacks. He would be a nice veteran presence on the back end for the Falcons, who’ve been rebuilding with youth, should he decide to play in 2016.

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5 comments
Edgar
Edgar

Dwight Freeney seems to be the practical choice. Thurmond says he wants to retire so that gives a clue about his health. Hardy says all the right things then suddenly pops off with a statement that makes everyone wonder. Plus he had a year that was below his capabilities.

Freeney had a year with the Cards that showed not only 8 sacks but the sacks were timely.

GaLatino
GaLatino

@Edgar "Only" 8 sacks?  That's more than 40% of our entire TEAM total last year.  Not to mention the schooling he could give our young and underachieving D-line.