The Atlanta Falcons cleared a little cap room so that they could reel in a bigger free agent fish.
Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff showed that he is trying to transform Atlanta’s football team is a legitimate Super Bowl contender by addressing his club’s defensive liabilities and signing former Minnesota Vikings DE Ray Edwards to a five-year, $30 million deal on Friday.
Numerous media outlets reported that $11 million of Edwards’ contract is guaranteed.
While the Dirty Birds netted the league’s 10th rated run defense, allowing an average of 105.9 yards per game last season, Atlanta’s defensive line had problems taking down the league’s quarterbacks, finishing 20th in the league with 31 sacks.
The lack of pressure helped expose the Falcons secondary, which was in the bottom tier of the league against the pass.
Dimitroff is gambling that the addition of Edwards to bookend perennial Pro Bowler John Abraham at defensive end will help address the team’s defensive woes and allow it to take the next step along a route that ends at Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.
Edwards should help. The former Purdue product has 29 sacks in his first five seasons in the league, including eight sacks last year and 8.5 in 2009.
ESPN’s NFL guru Mel Kiper, Jr. had rated Edwards as the No. 2 defensive end on this year’s list, only behind former University of Georgia star Charles Johnson. Johnson signed a six-year, $72-million deal to stay with the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday after the Falcons reportedly made a late charge at the Hawkinsville, Ga. native.
The decision to sign Edwards came at a bit of a cost for the Falcons, who terminated the contracts of a pair of former first rounders to make room under the league’s $120.375 million cap.
Atlanta cleared $7.8 million in salary earlier Friday by releasing defensive lineman Jamaal Anderson and wide receiver Michael Jenkins.
Anderson, who was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2007 draft, could be considered a bust in a draft class that saw Pro Bowl defenders Patrick Willis, Darrelle Revis, Michael Griffin and Jon Beason selected after him in the first round.
The 6-foot-6, 289-pound Arkansas-native appeared in just 60 games for the Falcons, amassing just 4.5 sacks while defensing nine passes and failing to record an interception.
Jenkins became expendable after Atlanta traded up in the first round to select Alabama’s Julio Jones with the No. 6 overall pick in this year’s draft. Jenkins, who was the 29th pick in the 2004 draft grabbed 276 passes for 3,512 yards and 20 scores in seven years for the Falcons.
But Atlanta’s former No. 2 wideout never amassed a 1,000 yard receiving season and was overshadowed by the emergence of Roddy White last year. The former Ohio State wideout had just 41 grabs for 505 yards and a pair of scores in the 2010 campaign while White lead the NFC with 115 receptions for 1,389 yards.
For updates whenever a new article is posted, please follow me either on Twitter @PJFoleyExaminer or Google Buzz.