The Atlanta Falcons have not waited for the start of free agency to address personnel changes with players and coaches. Atlanta re-signed defensive tackle Corey Peters to a one-year contract extension this past week.
Peters has been with the Falcons for four years when they drafted him in 2010. The third-round pick out of Kentucky has played in 56 career games and has 53 career starts.
Peters showed some promise in 2013 with a career-high five sacks. However, he suffered a season-ending Achilles’ injury in a loss against the San Francisco 49ers that may play a major role in his production come next season. Atlanta does expect to have him back and healthy for training camp in hopes he can build on the successes he had this past season.
With Peters on the books for at least another year, the Falcons still have decisions to be made on defensive tackles Peria Jerry and Jonathan Babineaux.
Peria Jerry was a first-round selection by the Falcons in the 2009 draft. The five year veteran out of Mississippi has not lived up to expectations. His rookie campaign was limited to two games before he was forced to miss the rest of the 2009 season with a knee injury.
This past season Jerry suffered a sprained PCL in the Falcons season finale against the Carolina Panthers. He has only totaled five sacks in his time with the Falcons and is approaching free agency with an expiring contract. In 2013 Jerry counted for 2.10 million toward the salary cap.
For the right price the Falcons may attempt to re-sign Jerry, but his limited production and injury history may leave Atlanta feeling perfectly content if they do decide to let him walk.
Babineaux is another defensive tackle facing free agency that the Falcons will need to make a decision on. The 32-year-old veteran was a second-round selection out of Iowa in the 2005 draft and has spent his entire career as an Atlanta Falcon.
Babineaux is coming off a 2013 season where he tallied 28 total tackles and just one interception. In the last three seasons Babineaux has only posted 4.5 sacks. Despite his low sack total he consistently provided the most pressure on quarterbacks this past season for a defensive line that did not strike much fear in their opponents.
New defensive line coach, Bryan Cox, will have to collate with Atlanta’s front office in determining who they need to keep and who they can afford to let walk.
With both lines in shambles, Atlanta will use this year’s free agency to help put some of the pieces back together. The Falcons may also use the upcoming NFL Draft to target an elite pass rusher to help sure up their inefficiencies in pressuring the quarterback.