2022 Atlanta Falcons Offseason: Breaking Down the Edge Defender Situation

The biggest issue for the Falcons defense is a lack of talent at edge defender both in the pass rushing and run defending aspects of the defense. Atlanta’s defensive line has needs, but edge defender has more needs than the defensive line does. Atlanta will need to find two starters and a speed rotational rusher to take advantage of defensive coordinator Dean Pees coverage and zone blitzing concepts.

Atlanta Falcons edge defender Ade Ogundeji
Photo Credit: Steve Luciano/AP

The biggest issue for the Atlanta Falcons defense is a lack of talent at edge defender both in the pass rushing and run defending aspects of the defense. Atlanta’s defensive line has needs, but edge defender has more needs than the defensive line does. Atlanta will need to find two starters and a speed rotational rusher to take advantage of defensive coordinator Dean Pees coverage and zone blitzing concepts.

Under Contract:

EDGE Adetokunbo Ogundeji: 3 years, $3.0 million left on his contract

EDGE James Vaughters: 1 year, $965,000 left on his contract

EDGE Quinton Bell: 1 year, $825,000 left on his contract

The Falcons are in a great spot to completely remake their edge rushing corps. While Adetokunbo Ogundeji showed that he’s a good long-term rotational piece, he’s not a long-term starter. James Vaughters is another solid rotational piece that they should go year-to-year with unless he pulls a Shaq Barrett on them. Quinton Bell was a practice squad player last year and signed to a futures contract.

Unrestricted Free Agents:

EDGE Dante Fowler

EDGE Stephen Means

EDGE Brandon Copeland

Honestly, unless any of these guys will come back for the true veteran minimum, they aren’t worth bringing into camp for the Falcons in 2022. Dante Fowler was a disappointment all year and barely brought any pressure. Stephen Means is a pure run defender with no pass rush potential. Brandon Copeland is a run defense and coverage linebacker who is better aligned on the edge.

Current Need

The Falcons are missing two starting caliber edge rushers and one rotational edge rusher. They need true pass rushers. Bringing in someone in the draft and free agency has to be the plan. Right now, the focus should be on getting multiple guys who can be regular 10-sack players while they are with the Falcons, as well as at least a rotational guy who can come in and be a mentor.

Potential Future Need

There would be a potential future need if the Falcons had someone at the position. But right now, there is no potential future need. It’s all about fixing the pass rush right now and in the long term.

What the Plan Should Be Moving Forward

The Atlanta Falcons should look to get at least two starting edge defenders in free agency. Someone like Von Miller on a $9 million/year or so deal to start and be a mentor makes sense. Other options would include guys like Melvin Ingram as a rotational rusher or a Derek Barnett as a starter. Older, mentor types that could help in the mentor and rotational role include guys like Ryan Kerrigan, Pernell McPhee, Jamie Collins and Everson Griffen.

In the draft, there are a lot of interesting options. Ideally one of Kayvon Thibideaux or Aidan Hutchinson slip to the Falcons in the first round. However, options like George Karlaftis or David Ojabo could end up being great fits in the first round. Additional mid-round guys would include Myjai Sanders, Kingsley Enagbare, Zach Harrison and Nolan Smith. With such a strong edge class, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Atlanta go out and get multiple options in the draft and add just one veteran.

Is Emmanuel Ogbah next in line for a new contract?

Emmanuel Ogbah was a pleasant free agent pickup last season and it looks like he wants a new contract before he hits free agency again this year.

Dolphins DE Emmanuel Ogbah deserves a new contract
Photo credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Emmanuel Ogbah was a pleasant free agent pickup last season and it looks like he wants a new contract before he hits free agency again this year.

Ogbah’s camp has reported that they would like to have a new contract this upcoming season. Per Barry Jackson of the Miami Heralds, Ogbah’s agent Drew Rosenhaus has stated: “We would like to get an extension done, We’ve approached the Dolphins about that. That’s as much as I can say.”

Rosenhaus eschewed the original statement on WSVN 7 Sports Xtra with host Josh Moser

Ogbah did report to the Dolphins training facility for mandatory mini-camp.

Currently, Emmanuel Ogbah is in his final year of his 2-year, $15M contract signing with the Dolphins back ahead of the 2020 season. This comes on the heels of a nine sack season that led the team, along with 42 tackles, 21 QB hits, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

Ogbah’s play off the edge was eye opening to say the least, and was one of the best at the 5-point stance.

The Dolphins signed Ogbah, the former Browns and Chiefs pass-rusher, to a two-year, $15 million contract before the 2020 season. It turned out to be one of the better free-agent bargains last year, as Ogbah had more than his share of dominant moments. This was especially true when Ogbah was aligned in a 5-technique role, just outside the offensive tackle in a three-man front. He had two solo sacks and 13 total pressures on that role, and on occasion, as he did here against the Patriots, Ogbah would turn on the jets with an inside move, and just bull his way to the quarterback.”

Doug Farrar-Touchdown Wire

A late bloomer since he entered the NFL, Ogbah developed well in Kansas City and showcased his potential last season. The 2019 season looked like he was headed towards a big year until an injury halted that season. Ogabh took the next step with the Dolphins in 2020, playing in a scheme that has benefited him.

“He’s got versatility, “He can play inside, outside. He’s tough. He plays against the run. He plays well against the run. He’s fast. He’s got length. He’s smart. He can do a lot. He’s a good teammate. He’s tough. I think I’ve said that already, but he’s a good player.”

Head Coach Brian Flores on Ogbah

The Dolphins coaching staff trust Ogbah to do a variety of things, not only to rush the passer but to set the edge against run fits and his ability to move inside the defensive line on passing downs.

“Emmanuel has shown the ability to be multiple,” defensive coordinator Josh Boyer said. “We move him around in a lot of spots. He can set the edge. He can handle double-teams. He can rush the passer. He is a diligent worker and he constantly is striving to get better.”

Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer on Ogbah

Compared to this upcoming free agent class of EDGE rushers, Ogbah is fairly young at 27. Von Miller would be 33 and his market value currently stands at $12 million a year per Spotrac. Derek Barnett who’s rookie contract is also up at the end of this year is valued at $10.4 million a year on a 4 year contract. Both Ogbah and Barnett share the same agent, Drew Rosenhaus.

If there’s any indication about Ogbah reporting to mini-camp as a sign of extension talks underway looking at Rosenhaus’s response above clarifies nothing.

It will be up to the Miami Dolphins organization to offer a contract extension to Emmanuel Ogbah and his agent Rosenhaus, who is also Jerome Baker’s agent that brokered Baker’s new deal.

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