One of Raheem Morris’ first tasks in his new job will be evaluating who among the Atlanta Falcons’ free agents he might want to pursue.
It’s not a star-studded list, but there are some intriguing options, particularly on the defensive line, and none are more intriguing than one of the oldest active players in the league. Here’s our top 10 list of the Falcons’ unrestricted free agents:
In his 16th season in the NFL, Campbell tied for the team lead in sacks with 6 1/2, his highest total since the 2019 season. That helped him surpass the 100-sack mark for his career. He now has 105 1/2. After signing a one-year free-agency deal, Campbell started all 17 games and contributed to a significant turnaround in the Falcons’ defensive fortunes. He finished the season playing at a high level and said he would like to play at least another year in the league if the circumstances are right. His chances of returning to Atlanta went down with defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen’s move to Jacksonville after the season.
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2. Bud Dupree, outside linebacker
The other 6 1/2-sack defender on the roster last year, Dupree joined the Falcons on a one-year, $2.5 million deal and said after the season that he would consider returning. The Macon, Ga., native enjoyed playing close to home and had his best season since 2020, his final year in Pittsburgh, when he had eight sacks. The 6-foot-4, 300-pounder can play outside linebacker or a more traditional defensive end spot (like he did for the Falcons this season), which might make him a good fit for more teams.
The No. 3 pick in the 2020 draft might get the biggest deal out of the Falcons’ free agents this year simply because of potential and youth, but it’s unlikely to come from the Falcons. Okudah, who came to Atlanta in an offseason trade with Detroit last year, was benched late in the season in favor of rookie cornerback Clark Phillips. Morris might be tempted by Okudah’s talent, but with secondary coach Jerry Gray staying in Atlanta, Okudah probably won’t be back. Okudah broke up three passes and didn’t have an interception. He only has two interceptions in 38 career games.
After a career year in Las Vegas in 2022 (57 catches, 690 yards), Hollins never found any traction in Atlanta’s passing game despite the Falcons’ dearth of wide receivers. He had 18 catches for 251 yards, but it’s unclear how much of that can be pinned on Hollins and how much was due to Atlanta’s quarterback problems and overall lack of offensive fluidity. When healthy (he was slowed by an ankle injury midway through the season), Hollins was a key special teams player, and that alone gives him some value on the free-agent market.
Street played only five games after an in-season trade with Philadelphia because a pec injury ended his season early, but he made a big impact in that short time, starting all five games and registering 14 tackles for a team that desperately needed defensive line help. The Falcons might try to bring the sixth-year lineman back, but he’ll likely have other suitors as well because his arrow is pointed up. He had a career-high eight quarterback hits in New Orleans in 2022 and then started a career-high six games in 2023.
Patterson was the Falcons’ feel-good story in 2021 and 2022, reviving his career with a position switch from wide receiver to running back. However, it looked like his age might have caught up to him in his 11th pro season. At least, the Falcons believed it had. Patterson had only 50 carries and nine catches (his lowest total since 2015), and at least twice during the season had social media posts suggesting he was unhappy with his workload. The NFL’s all-time leader in kickoff returns for a touchdown (nine) will get another chance somewhere, but it may not be at the value he thinks he deserves.
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After being selected in the fifth round of the 2018 draft, Flowers has become something of an NFL journeyman. The Falcons were his third NFL team, and he started three games, deflected two passes and had 15 tackles. Flowers still has the type of size (6-3, 200 pounds) and athleticism that will make him attractive on the free-agent market, and the Falcons probably will take a shot at him, especially if Okudah leaves.
Pruitt probably isn’t Atlanta’s plans anymore after head coach Arthur Smith was fired. Smith is one of the league’s foremost tight end proponents, and Pruitt still had only nine catches for 110 yards this season. The Falcons are expected to lean heavily on 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end, three wide receivers) under Morris, so Pruitt looks like surplus. In nine years in the league, he’s shown enough value as a blocker and depth piece that he probably will get some offseason attention.
Jefferson had 12 catches in 12 games after joining the team in a midseason trade with the Rams. If Smith was still the head coach, Jefferson likely wouldn’t consider coming back to Atlanta. However, now he could be reunited with former Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Robinson, the Falcons’ new offensive coordinator. If he’s not interested in that, someone probably will sign him simply on the memory of his 50-catch 2021 season.
Hodge had a career-high 14 catches in 2023, which doesn’t seem like much of a selling point, but there’s an argument to be made that his seventh season in the league was his best. In addition to being a core special teams player, Hodge has produced in the passing game when given an opportunity the last two seasons. Thirteen of his 14 catches this season resulted in a first down.
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(Top photo: Grant Halverson / Getty Images)