Falcons Bring Back Start-Worthy Linebacker

LaRoy Reynolds

getty LaRoy Reynolds #53 of the Atlanta Falcons in 2016.

The Atlanta Falcons have agreed to terms to bring back free agent linebacker LaRoy Reynolds, per Falcons official Twitter account.

Reynolds had previously spent two consecutive seasons with the Falcons in 2016 and 2017. He appeared in a total of 25 games as a Falcon making three starts. Most recently, he played in 15 games as a Cincinnati Bengal during the 2019 season.

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Reliable Special Teams Player

Reynolds has played seven years in the NFL so far. He has proven himself to be a reliable special teams player throughout his career.

During his seven season, he has recorded 105 tackles, three tackles for a loss, two pass defenses and two fumble recoveries.

Over the past two years with the Eagles and Bengals, Reynolds only played a little bit of return on defense. With the Eagles, he played just 1% of defensive snaps and 4% as a Bengal. His value really comes in with special teams though. He played 70% of special teams snaps how both teams in 2018 and 2019.

Falcons in Need of Start-Worthy LB

Reynolds has a chance to be the Falcons starting linebacker if he wants it bad enough. The Falcons are in need after letting starting De’Vondre Campbell get away in free agency and key special teams player Kemal Ishmael walk.

Letting Campbell test free agency wasn’t the best move by the Falcons, but it was something they needed to do in order to save money to spend elsewhere.

Campbell had the choice to return to Atlanta, but if he found a better contract and fit they figured he wouldn’t be returning. Campbell was quickly picked up by the Arizona Cardinals.

Campbell has only improved over is four seasons in Atlanta, leading the team in tackles during 2018 with 94 tackles and again this past season finishing with 129 tackles

Ishmael was moved to safety after J.J. Wilcox suffered a season-ending knee injury. He split his time up seeing 75 percent of his practice time at safety and the rest of 25 percent at linebacker.

At safety, it was clear he couldn’t do his part in coverage after allowing the opposing receivers to sweep in 84% of their targets for over 200 yards and two touchdowns. Once he was moved to linebacker, he was reliable in run support and as a tackler.

Addressing LB Position in Draft & Free Agency

The Falcons are expected to focus on defensive players in the 2020 NFL draft. The Falcons most recently signed ex-Rams outside linebacker Dante Fowler. While Fowler and Reynolds both add depth to the linebacker position, it’s not enough.

If Kenneth Murray out of Oklahoma is still available by the second round, the Falcons need to put off drafting another running back and pick him up. Dan Quinn loves speed on defense and Murray won’t disappoint there.

Though Murray is a top prospect he will still need to compete in the offseason for a starting spot. Reynolds already has experience with the Falcons defensive scheme as well as NFL experience so since he is healthy and already seasoned, he could be the one better fit for the job than a rookie guy.

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