Falcons add 'explosive' element

July, 29, 2011
7/29/11
1:35
PM ET

We’ve got some major news out of Atlanta. The Falcons have agreed to terms on a five-year deal with free-agent defensive end Ray Edwards, several team sources confirmed.

This is the move many Atlanta fans have been waiting for since the lockout was lifted. The Falcons did make a run at Carolina’s Charles Johnson, but he decided to stay with the Panthers. There was speculation by some that the Falcons weren’t going to pursue Edwards because he might want a contract similar to the $72 million deal that Johnson got.

Edwards
But the Falcons ended up not having to pay anything close to that. Edwards' deal is for $30 million, with $11 million guaranteed.

Ever since trading up to draft receiver Julio Jones, the Falcons have made it clear they’re in the market for “explosive’’ players. Jones gave them one with that kind of potential on the offense, but it was clear that the big need on defense was at defensive end.

Aside from John Abraham, the Falcons don’t have much of a pass rush. Abraham’s not getting any younger and the Falcons, who clearly are in a win-now mode, want someone to complement Abraham in the short term and eventually take over his role as the dominant pass-rusher.

At 26, Edwards still has plenty of upside and the Falcons are clearly banking that he can take his game to a higher level. Edwards had 8.5 sacks in 2009 and eight last season. He never has reached double-digit sacks, but the Falcons believe that he can get there.

If he does, they’ll have that explosive player they’ve been looking for on defense.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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