Yesterday the Atlanta Falcons released one of their most productive (and popular) players in defensive end John Abraham. While the backlash from fans has already been felt in the offices at the Georgia Dome, a suitable replacement for Abraham is already close by.
The Falcons cherry-picked Abraham away from the New York Jets in 2006, and they can look to the same locker room, different color this year. Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff has pulled off some shrewd moves during his tenure in Atlanta, and now would be the time for one of the shrewdest moves of all.
It’s almost certain that All-Pro defensive end Osi Umenyiora will not be returning to the New York Giants in 2013. Atlanta’s need for a premier pass rusher along with the money they saved by cutting Abraham, Michael Turner and Dunta Robinson could put the Falcons at the head of the line to secure Umenyiora’s services.
“The release of DE John Abraham by the Falcons swings the door wide open for Osi Umenyiora, an unrestricted free agent looking for a new team,” writes Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. “Umenyiora lives in Atlanta.”
Let’s just let that sink in for a moment. Umenyiora LIVES in Atlanta. Could there be a better fit? Oh Mr. Dimitroff…time to grab that smart phone and hit the “U” button on your contacts list.
We know Umenyiora wants to go to a Super Bowl contender, and we know Atlanta wants a premier pass rusher and veteran presence on defense.
As always, the big hurdle for the Falcons is going to be–you guessed it–money. Even though Atlanta is now nearly $16 million under the salary cap, they aren’t without some financial considerations of their own to deal with–namely, guys like Matt Ryan, William Moore, Sam Baker and Brent Grimes–before reaching out to pricey free agents such as Umenyiora.
Still, if the Falcons can figure a way to retain their important UFAs, and still free up enough cash to grab Osi away from any other suitors, then it would be quite a coup for a team that had little to no cash (or draft picks) in 2012, and was only 10 yards away from a Super Bowl appearance.
In nine NFL seasons, Umenyioa has amassed 376 combined tackles, 75 sacks and 32 forced fumbles. He also holds the Giants single-game record for sacks (6), and the NFL single-season record for forced fumbles (10).