Atlanta Falcons Officially sign a super talented edge Rusher to help Kirk Cousins

ATLANTA — As the Atlanta Falcons head toward the draft and the rest of the offseason, there are things the club needs to accomplish to set itself up for a successful training camp and first season under coach Raheem Morris.

Some are obvious. Some less so. All will have some layer of importance to what Morris is trying to bring to Atlanta for the first time since 2017: A winning season and a playoff experience.

With that in mind, here are some things the Falcons should consider before they leave for their summer break.

Figure out the edge rusher situation

This will likely be something that works itself out throughout training camp, but from a personnel perspective, pass-rushers remain the biggest question for Atlanta. It’s a position the Falcons could easily address during the first two days of the draft.

If Atlanta chooses to select an edge rusher at No. 8, the three most likely options are Alabama’s Dallas Turner, Florida State’s Jared Verse and UCLA’s Laiatu Latu.

Turner, who had 10 sacks last season, got pressure on 16.7% of his pass-rush snaps and also had 84 plays in coverage according to ESPN Stats & Information. Verse had nine sacks and pressure on 16.5% of his pass-rush snaps and only dropped in coverage 25 times. Latu had 13 sacks last year and pressure on 20.4% of his pass-rush snaps, dropping into coverage 31 times — and intercepting two passes.

“It’s about how they fit with us and some of the stuff they can do with us,” Morris said. “And how they are able to be part of our football team.”

It’s unclear how Atlanta plans on using second-year defensive end Zach Harrison, but Harrison showed potential as a pass-rusher the last month of last season. The Falcons also have Arnold Ebiketie (six sacks), Lorenzo Carter (three sacks) and DeAngelo Malone returning, along with Ade Ogundeji, who missed last season with an ankle/foot injury.

Depending how the draft unfolds, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Atlanta add a veteran or two post-draft, once potential paths to playing time become clearer. Ex-Falcons Calais Campbell and Bud Dupree remain unsigned.

Be smart with Kirk Cousins

There’s no need to rush the veteran quarterback during the spring as he recovers from his torn right Achilles. Cousins has been positive about his rehabilitation process — in March saying he’s feeling “really great.”

Cousins said then he can throw and drop back, but if he had to move in the pocket the recovery would be noticeable. Cousins hopes to be full speed by the end of June’s minicamp, but this is also his first major injury. And he is 35 years old.

He’s learning a new offense, although many of the principles might be similar as he’s going from one Sean McVay protege in the Vikings’ Kevin O’Connell to another in Robinson.

Atlanta can use time early in the offseason to get reps for Taylor Heinicke and whichever third quarterback they bring in.

Start building the long-term plan

Atlanta has to decide whether to pick up tight end Kyle Pitts’ fifth-year option by May 2.

The Falcons also could choose to extend cornerback A.J. Terrell, who is entering his fifth-year option as the team’s most notable potential 2025 free agent.

Drew Dalman, the team’s starting center the past two seasons, is also in the final year of his rookie deal.

Beyond contract situations, the Falcons need to use the spring to evaluate. Spring is the time for experimentation, for cross-training and for getting a sense of what a player might be able to do beyond what is already known. So in a new offense and a new defense, getting a handle on roles – and potential versatility throughout the roster – could be a benefit come training camp.

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