Falcons Visiting with Pass-Rusher Coming Off Career-Best Season

Kemoko Turay

Getty The Atlanta Falcons are hosting a free-agent pass-rusher who is coming off a career-best season.

The Atlanta Falcons are still looking for bargains in NFL free agency, preferably ones who can help fix the team’s ailing pass rush. To that end, the Falcons are set to meet with an unheralded defensive end who enjoyed a banner year in 2021.

This versatile edge-rusher put up career numbers for the Indianapolis Colts last season. Although he played in a 4-3 scheme in Indy, this veteran has the frame, range and athleticism to play outside in the Falcons’ version of the 3-4 defense.

The Falcons still need pass rush help, despite acquiring Lorenzo Carter on a one-year deal from the New York Giants. There’s room for another short-term contract, despite the Falcons’ issues with the salary cap.

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Former 2nd-Round Pick Set for Visit

The Falcons added former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Auden Tate on Monday, March 28, per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, who identified the next free agent set for a visit:

Kemoko Turay has all the upside Carter offered the Falcons. A second-round pick for the Colts in the 2018 NFL draft, Turay featured in 13 games last season.

He recorded 5.5 of his 12 career sacks in 2021, and like Carter, Turay finished in strong form. He logged 2.5 sacks in his final four games.

The numbers are far from gaudy, but Turay has shown flashes of potential to develop into a more consistent game-wrecker off the edge. That potential is evident in what Turay does with only limited playing time, something Colts Law podcast host Lawrence Owen noted during last season:

Banking on potential coming good is something the Colts are doing with Carter. He also ended last season in prolific form, notching a sack in four-straight games.

Pairing Carter and Turay on the edges would surely bolster a pass rush that collected just 18 sacks last season, the fewest in the league.

Turay Can Develop in the Right Scheme

Turay will work on the edge of a 3-4 because he’s flexible enough to operate as a standup rusher or put his hand on the ground in a three-point stance. The 6’5″, 252-pounder may find more joy as an outside linebacker, offering bigger upside than Dante Fowler Jr., who led the Falcons with a mere 4.5 sacks.

Fowler was released in February, but being embroiled in salary cap turmoil means the Falcons can’t afford marquee replacements. Not when the franchise is $3,225,027 over the cap, per Spotrac.com.

Instead, general manager Terry Fontenot needs to go bargain hunting. He has to focus his efforts on the second tier of the market where diamonds in the rough like Turay can be found.

Yet, signing a few unheralded edge defenders doesn’t have to be the end of the Falcons attempts to improve their ability to generate pressure. This year’s draft class is loaded with dynamic edge-rushers, including Georgia’s Travon Walker, Michigan’s David Ojabo and Florida State star Jermaine Johnson II.

All three should still be on the board by the time the Falcons are set to make their first pick eighth overall. Putting a rookie with star potential alongside two free agents on an upward trajectory would bolster the Falcons’ pass rush in an NFC South where getting to Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterback Tom Brady is still the priority.

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