The Atlanta Falcons are expected to pass on signing free-agent cornerback Brandon Boykin according to a report by ESPN’s Vaughn McClure, yet might visit with free-agent defensive end Dwight Freeney next week according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Jim Trotter.
McClure cites a league source indicating that the Falcons have opted to pass on adding Boykin, who visited and worked out with the team on Monday. According to reports, Boykin impressed during his workout but the team was awaiting news on his medical checks. McClure indicates that there were concerns centering on Boykin’s hips, but the same league source indicates such concerns were a non-factor in the Falcons’ decision.
The Falcons are looking for depth at corner in lieu of a four-game suspension that second-year cornerback Jalen Collins is slated to serve at the start of the season. Fellow 2015 draftee Akeem King played a grand total of 14 defensive snaps last year and 2016 free-agent signing DeMarcus Van Dyke hasn’t played a snap on defense since his rookie season in 2011, leaving the Falcons will seriously depth concerns.
Boykin, 25, was surprisingly released by the Carolina Panthers earlier this month after spending seven weeks with the team. Boykin played sparingly with the Pittsburgh Steelers last season after being traded by the Philadelphia Eagles last summer. Boykin is an Atlanta native that played collegiate ball at the University of Georgia before the Eagles drafted him in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Freeney has garnered limited interest on the open market thus far this offseason despite leading the Arizona Cardinals with eight sacks last season in just 11 games played as a situational pass-rusher. Freeney is visiting the Cincinnati Bengals today before he is expected to visit the Falcons.
Freeney, 36, is one of the league’s most prolific pass-rushers with 119.5 career sacks over the course of his 14-year NFL career. That figure ranks third among active players, only behind Julius Peppers (136) and DeMarcus Ware (134.5). Freeney’s sack total also ranks 19th all time in NFL history.
He spent the bulk of his career with the Indianapolis Colts, who drafted him in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft. In 11 seasons with the Colts, Freeney earned seven trips to the Pro Bowl and was that team’s all-time leader with 107.5 sacks before departing the team in 2012.
In 2013 Freeney joined the San Diego Chargers for the next two years, collecting just four sacks in 20 games while working in their 3-4 defensive scheme. He was on the verge of retirement last fall before the Cardinals signed him in October. According to a report from FOX Sports’ Alex Marvez earlier this offseason, Freeney intends to play one more season.
Freeney could add a boost to the Falcons’ pass rush as a situational defensive end in the team’s nickel sub-package, which is the same role he played with the Cardinals last year. In that role, he’d likely platoon with Adrian Clayborn as the team’s right defensive end opposite Vic Beasley. The Falcons finished last in the NFL with 19 sacks last season.