Falcons Named Best Fit for Veteran Free Agent Corner

The Atlanta Falcons offseason included some key additions to the team. The team signed Kirk Cousins while also drafting Michael Penix Jr. with the eight overall pick in the NFL Draft. Although most big names have already signed to new teams, there are still impact free agents still available. The Falcons were tabbed as the best fit for former third-round pick, Steven Nelson, according to ESPN’s Matt Bowen.

The Falcons’ biggest additions of the offseason came on the offensive side of the ball and on the coaching staff. They hired Raheem Morris as their new head coach after firing Arthur Smith. Morris had served as the interim head coach of the Falcons in 2020. However, he most recently served as the defensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams.

Nelson a Good Fit for Morris’ Defense

“The 47-year-old Morris spearheaded the Rams’ Super Bowl-winning defense as its coordinator in the 2021 season. He also has 59 games under his belt as an NFL head coach (17-31 with the Buccaneers; 4-7 with the Falcons),” NFL.com’s Grant Gordon wrote of Morris.

Morris’ defense will likely be zone-heavy in 2024, making Nelson a good fit.

“Last season in Houston, Nelson tied a career high with four interceptions and also had seven pass breakups. At his best when he can key inside to read the quarterback, he’s a fit for coach Raheem Morris’ scheme, which tends to be more zone-heavy. In 2023 with the Rams, Morris’ unit played zone coverage on 60.1% of opponent dropbacks, majoring in split-safety zone and Cover 3. This is a good spot for Nelson, and it’d give the Falcons more veteran competition in camp,” wrote Bowen.

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Nelson has played nine seasons in the NFL. He was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs. From 2019-2021 he played for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He spent the last two seasons with the Houston Texans.

Nelson has started 115 of his 130 career games and has recorded 13 interceptions. He has made 374 tackles as well.

Falcons Offseaosn

The Falcons signed Cousins to a four-year, $180 million contract that includes a no-trade clause. Cousins spent the last six seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, leading them to two playoff appearances. A three-time Pro Bowler, he threw for 23,265 yards and 171 touchdowns as a Viking. However, the Falcons still shocked the NFL when they drafted a quarterback in the first round.

“Kirk Cousins is our quarterback,” Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot said in a post-draft press conference. “We’re very excited about Kirk. We’re very excited about this team. Michael Penix, we’re talking about the future. You look at the future. You look at the big picture. We are very excited about that quarterback room, and again, Kirk is our quarterback. But adding Michael Penix is thinking about the future.”

The Falcons’ selection of Penix is a move they described as thinking about the future. If all things go well, they don’t anticipate being in a position to draft a player like Penix in the future.

“It’s pretty simple for us,” head coach Raheem Morris said at the post-draft press conference. “When you get Kirk Cousins, and you talk about short-term winning and talk about winning right now, which we know we will be in a position to do, we won’t have the ability to be picking this high again with the guy that we got.”

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The Falcons did not do much in the offseason to bolster their defense. Nelson could be a key addition.

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