The Falcons just added another piece to help them achieve their goal, stated way back in February, of being a more explosive team in 2011.
And they did it at a reasonable price.
Atlanta has agreed to terms with former Vikings DE Ray Edwards on a five-year deal worth $30 million with $11.5 million guaranteed, according to reports. Edwards, 26, was considered the second-best defensive end available in free agency. The Falcons were considering the No. 1 end available, Charles Johnson, before the Panthers made the winning bid of $76 million over six years with $32 million guaranteed.
Edwards made eight sacks last season and had 29½ sacks total in his five seasons with the Vikings.
The Falcons released DE Jamaal Anderson and WR Michael Jenkins on Friday to help clear cap space before agreeing to terms with Edwards, who will be unable to practice until Aug. 4, per league rules.
Atlanta's defensive line has the potential to be a very good one, especially if '09 first-round pick Peria Jerry has a breakthrough year. Edwards joins John Abraham — who had 13 sacks last season — and high-energy fourth-year veteran Kroy Biermann as the top defensive ends. DTs Jonathan Babineaux, the under tackle, and nose tackles Corey Peters and Jerry form the interior.
The way we see it
The addition of Edwards is another indication of just how serious the Falcons are about competing for a title this year. It started with the trade up in the first round of the draft to land Julio Jones, and it's continued with the re-signing of ORT Tyson Clabo and move to bring in Edwards.
Edwards was never an elite pass rusher in Minnesota, even though he was facing plenty of one-on-ones playing on the same line with the Williams Wall and Jared Allen for the last three seasons — but he's certainly an upgrade for the Falcons.
The Falcons need to bring more pressure this season. In a division loaded with quarterbacks like Drew Brees and Josh Freeman, keeping opposing quarterbacks from establishing a rhythm is key, and Edwards should help in that effort.