The Atlanta Falcons announced a pair of free-agent signings earlier today, adding defensive end Adrian Clayborn and cornerback Phillip Adams. Clayborn spent the last four seasons playing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, including being drafted by former Bucs head coach and current Falcons assistant head coach Raheem Morris in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Adams briefly played with the Seattle Seahawks in 2011 and 2014, but has been a journeyman over the course of his five-year playing career, spending time with five different teams before joining the Falcons. He most recently played with the New York Jets in 2014, after being cut by the Seahawks after training camp.
Clayborn, 26, bolsters the Falcons pass rush at defensive end. He reportedly signed a one-year deal worth up to $4.5 million.
Clayborn was projected by many to be the Falcons’ top selection in 2011 until the team traded up for wide receiver Julio Jones, allowing the Bucs to select him with the 20th overall selection. Clayborn had a solid rookie season, starting every game at right defensive end and totaling 42 tackles and 7.5 sacks. He suffered a torn ACL in his right knee early in his second season, being limited to just three starts. He totaled just one tackle and no sacks in those three appearances. He came back healthy in 2013, starting every game and finishing the year with 64 tackles and 5.5 sacks. He was moved to left defensive end in 2014, but suffered a torn biceps tendon in the season-opener, winding up on injured reserve for the second time in his career. He received a clean bill of health this past December in his recovery from the injury.
Adams, 26, was originally drafted out of South Carolina State by the San Francisco 49ers in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL Draft. As a rookie with the 49ers, he played mostly on special teams in 15 games, where he tallied six tackles. He also had four tackles and a pass breakup on defense. He was cut by the 49ers at the end of training camp in 2011, and picked up by the New England Patriots.
Adams played six games with the Patriots, occasionally as a nickel cornerback, totaling eight tackles and an interception. He was cut and re-signed twice by the Patriots before being cut a final time after Week 12 in 2011. He was signed by the Seahawks prior to Week 16 and played in one game and was inactive for another. He was cut by the Seahawks at the end of training camp in 2012, and was claimed by the Oakland Raiders.
Adams served as a punt returner for the Raiders, finishing the year with 25 punt returns for an average of 5.6 yards per return. He also started two of 15 games and recorded 12 tackles, two interceptions and five pass breakups. He suffered a pair of concussions as well in the final month of the 2012 season. In 2013, he appeared in all 16 games, earning two starts with the Raiders. He totaled 27 tackles and a pass breakup on the season. He was signed by the Seahawks the following offseason, but was cut by the Seahawks at the end of training camp. He was picked up by the Jets and injuries forced him into the starting lineup in the middle of the season at cornerback. He finished 2014, starting four of 12 games and tallied 23 tackles, an interception and three pass breakups.
He’ll be expected to add depth for the Falcons and potentially compete for the vacated nickel cornerback spot.