By trading up for Julio Jones, the Atlanta Falcons decided not to use their first-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft on a pass rusher–which they desperately needed. However, it appears they have their eyes set on an effective pass rusher once the lockout comes to an end–Minnesota Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards.
Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported this week how Edwards claims to be “done with the Vikings” and has been spending this offseason focusing on his boxing career. The Vikings placed a first-round tender–which is good for a one-year deal worth $2.8 million–on Edwards, but he’s frustrated with the organization since his backup–Brian Robison–makes more money. Robison received a three-year extension from the Vikings worth $14.1 million (including a $6.5 million bonus) back in March–so it’s no surprise Edwards is frustrated.
After last year’s meltdown against the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs, the Falcons want to do everything possible to make sure they perform just as well–if not better–in 2011 and the next step in that direction is adding an effective pass rusher. Edwards has recorded 16.5 sacks over the last two seasons and is only 26-years old–so it’s no surprise the Falcons are interested in signing him.
From Craig’s article:
Edwards said the fight will go on even if the lockout ends and the league year begins before then. The Falcons reportedly have targeted him as a free agent or a sign-and-trade possibility if he’s restricted. That’s millions of dollars that could be put on hold for a boxing deal that Edwards said comes with a $5,000 guarantee and 50 percent of the gate.
Of course–the fighting refers to the boxing career Edwards has pursued this offseason. As great as this possibility sounds, the Falcons have to consider all of the draft picks they already surrendered to trade up with the Cleveland Browns in the NFL Draft–meaning it may be hard to give up more picks if that’s what it takes to acquire Edwards.