Yesterday, the Philadelphia Eagles released defensive end Jason Babin, sending small shockwaves around the league. Babin had 18 sacks a year ago, ranking third in the league. He was also currently leading the Eagles with 5.5 sacks. It was a slight disappointment for the Eagles after last year’s monster season. But the Eagles seemingly looking towards their future and wanting to give more reps to young pass rushers like Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry, decided to part ways with Babin. And Babin would become subject to the waivers system with his release.
It was a move comparable to that of the Falcons own decision to part ways with Ray Edwards a few weeks ago. That same summer that the Falcons handed a five-year, $27.5 million contract to Edwards, the Eagles gave out a similar deal to Babin. With 5/16ths of his $5.6 million base salary counting towards any team that claimed him, the 32-year old Babin would come at a relative bargain.
But in the end, the Jacksonville Jaguars claimed Babin today. The Jaguars, with the league’s second-worst record, had waiver priority over all teams except the Kansas City Chiefs. Due to having the best record, the Falcons were ranked last in waiver priority. Essentially meaning that Babin would need to clear waivers in order with no other team claiming him for the Falcons to get him. Doubtful given the league-wide value on pass rushers. Even if Babin is not the same player he was a year ago, he still would be considered an upgrade on a lot of rosters, including potentially the Falcons.
Today, it was announced that besides the Jaguars, seven other teams put in waiver claims with the Falcons. Separate reports have indicated that the Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, along with the Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins putting a claim on him. Who the last team was is not known, but it’s doubtful that it was the Falcons given last night’s report from D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC that sources indicated that the Falcons had no interest in Babin.
Whether Babin would provide a boost to the Falcons pass rush, it was certainly worth a look by the Falcons to try and claim him. The Falcons pass rush is one of the most glaring weaknesses on their defense. With their run defense making some improvements in recent weeks, the pass rush now may rank as the biggest weakness for the defense. And lacking a good pass rush is a major liability come playoff time, for this 10-1 Falcon team that is attempting to win its first playoff game in the Mike Smith Era.
If Babin proved to be another Ray Edwards and was a non-factor down the stretch for the Falcons, it would be a worthwhile risk. Unlike with Edwards where the Falcons gave up $11 million guaranteed, Babin would only be guaranteed about $1.6 million left of his base salary. Relatively speaking, he would have been easy to cut ties with in the off-season. If he worked out, then it could have been a significant boost to the pass rush and defense for a stretch run for a Falcon team that has lofty goals this year.
Instead, the Falcons will be reliant on John Abraham stepping up. Abraham has been on a recent lull in his production, but hopefully it is due to Abraham gearing up for the playoff push as opposed to hitting a wall. Biermann has stepped up his play in recent weeks, and the Falcons are hoping that the infusion of youth with Edwards departure might help out.