It’s well documented that the Falcons have a need at defensive end opposite of John Abraham. It’s also no secret that Julius Peppers wants out of Carolina. With Peppers heading for unrestricted free-agency, many are pointing to Atlanta as a possible destination for the 5-time pro-bowler.
AJC’s Jeff Schultz is convinced. But ESPN’s Pat Yaskinkas spoke with Thomas Dimitroff last week, and while he didn’t rule anything out, Dimitroff didn’t sound very eager to spend much money during free agency:
“First and foremost, we’re going to be very fiscally responsible. That doesn’t mean we won’t be active. If we think a player in free agency can really ratchet us to another level, we’ll contemplate it. If we see a player that is a fit like Tony Gonzalez was, then I’ll go to (owner) Arthur Blank and tell him that we want to pursue this guy.”
There’s no question Peppers would improve the Atlanta defense, but at what cost? He’s likely going to command a contract similar to his last one, which would once again make him the highest paid defensive end in football. What Dimitroff must decide, is whether paying upwards of $16 million for a 30-year old sack specialist would be beneficial long term, or if the team would be better served spending that money elsewhere, and giving either Lawrence Sidbury (1 sack year) or Kroy Biermann (5 sacks, 1 forced fumble in 2 starts) a legitimate chance to start opposite of Abraham. There’s also the possibility that the team addresses its pass-rushing need through the draft, but more than any other defensive position, it’s very hard for a rookie end to be a difference-maker right away.
I have no doubt that adding Peppers would give this defense a much-needed boost, but is it worth the sticker price?