NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported late last night that the Atlanta Falcons and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon have come to terms on a one-year deal, bringing back the veteran after a year-long hiatus with the Arizona Cardinals. The seventh-year linebacker arrived in Atlanta yesterday for a visit, which apparently went well enough for him to come to a verbal agreement according to ESPN.
Weatherspoon, nicknamed “Spoon,” was drafted by the Falcons with their top selection in 2010, spending five seasons with the Falcons before the arrival of head coach Dan Quinn in 2015. The Falcons opted against re-signing the veteran free agent a year ago, leading to him landing a one-year deal with the Cardinals. The Falcons chose to replace Spoon with veteran free agent Justin Durant, who was released after 2015 after an injury-marred campaign in which he tallied 82 tackles despite missed three games.
As was the case in Atlanta, Spoon’s only season in the desert was plagued with injuries. Recovering from an Achilles tear that forced him to miss the entire 2014 season with the Falcons, Spoon suffered a setback in his first summer with the Cardinals. He wound up serving as a reserve and special-teams performer in 14 games in 2015, tallying 11 tackles.
Throughout his stint with the Falcons, Spoon struggled to stay healthy as he missed a combined 33 games over his first five seasons in the NFL. Most of those came in 2013 and 2014, where he appeared in just seven total games in the former season. Spoon managed to start all 16 games only once during his initial time with the Falcons, producing his best season in 2011 with 113 tackles and four sacks.
His return gives the Falcons help at a linebacker position that has been hurting since the Achilles injury forced his absence in 2014. He’ll likely return to playing his staple spot at weak-side linebacker. However it remains to be seen if the Falcons expect the 28-year linebacker to be firmly entrenched in a starting spot or amidst a competition for the spot vacated upon Durant’s release.
The Falcons are currently thin at the linebacker position, with Spoon joining just strong-side linebackers Brooks Reed and Tyler Starr as the only players under contract. Middle linebacker Paul Worrilow is a restricted free agent and has yet to sign his one-year tender. Other reserves in Nate Stupar, O’Brien Schofield and Philip Wheeler are also unrestricted free agents. Reports emerged Thursday evening that Schofield’s return was unlikely. There has yet to be word on whether Stupar or Wheeler’s returns are imminent.