As a diehard fan of the Falcons I naturally follow all of their player movements and keep a close eye on their depth chart, so I know the team pretty well. It is my opinion that Biermann can be upgraded (he is pretty good, but we could do better at LE) and there are free agents available at the position. Most Falcon Fans I have encountered want us to sign Charles Johnson, Ray Edwards or possibly Mathias Kiwanuka. Maybe even trade for Osi Umenyiora. But while I think all of them would be potential upgrades over Biermann (who I think would be ideal in a rotational role, not as the starter where he would be solid/pretty good) I think one player specifically offers a great combination of upside, the possibility of signing a reasonable contract, and meshing with our team as well or better than any of the players I mentioned above.
That player is Jason Babin, a DE who played on the Titans last year.
He had 12.5 sacks according to NFL.com (14 according to Pro Football Focus, who I trust in their evaluation of pro film) and it was easily his best statistical season. It would be easy to say that it is a fluke, but I personally don’t think it is, especially after reading this interview:
This interview explains why he was so unproductive for so long. Like many players he was played out of position, at outside linebacker instead of defensive end (the position he starred at in college which led to him being a 1st round draft pick) for much of his career. This year, his 6th healthy season in the NFL I believe, was the first year he was able to play his natural position of 4-3 defensive end. Not coincidentally, according to him, he had his best season of his career easily and had sacks in 12 of his 17 games according to NFL.com (a couple games with only half sacks, but according to PFF he was one of the most effective DE’s at sacking the quarterback and at consistently hurrying the quarterback, plus getting quarterback hits).
Not only that, but his personality reminds me a bit of Jared Allen. He is something of a mountain man as he lives in Alaska and according to this interview he may have even killed a bear during the lockout. He is an extremely hard worker, he is very strong, and he isn’t as worn down as you might think he would be at 31 years old because he just hasn’t gotten a lot of snaps and opportunities in his career. Not only that, but he specifically states in the interview that he is best in defenses that rely on attacking upfield, which is exactly what we ask our defensive linemen to do here.
I think Babin is an ideal fit for what we do from a scheme perspective, from our need for another quality pass rusher opposite Abraham (imagine Abe with Babin opposite him, two potential 10+ sack guys, with Biermann and Sidbury rotating in to keep them fresh) and he would mesh with our team well as long as we played him at 4-3 DE (and who the heck wouldn’t after the season he had last year).
I hope the Falcons go after him, and if we do he would be a very good pick-up for us in my opinion. He’s not a long term solution at 31, but he is a significant upgrade for the short term for the next three years in my estimation. I don’t know that we will go after him, in fact it’s more likely that we won’t sign him than anything else, but I would love to see him in Atlanta. It’s also possible that he will have want an excessive amount of money, as some players do. But something about his personality and his overall attitude makes me think he’d just like to get a nice contract where he could play on a contender and play at his natural position, 4-3 DE.
Here’s hoping the Falcons pursue him, I’d love to see him in Red and Black.
Thanks for reading!