FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes an analysis of what cornerback and special-teams ace Justin Bethel brings to the Falcons as well as Ndamukong Suh's new destination.
FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
ESPN: Justin Bethel brings special-teams expertise
Over the weekend the Falcons announced that former Arizona Cardinals cornerback Justin Bethel agreed to terms on a deal to come to Atlanta. While he should add depth in the secondary and has three pick-sixes over the past three seasons, Bethel's most immediate impact will likely come on special teams, where he was named a three-time Pro Bowler with the Cardinals.
As he has done for each of the Falcons' free agent signings, ESPN's Vaughn McClure provided his reaction to the move and gave the team a grade for their acquisition.
"The Falcons sorely needed bodies on special teams and got one of the best in the business in Bethel, a two-time All-Pro on special teams," McClure writes. "He should make an immediate impact on a special teams unit that struggled in many areas last season, particularly tackling and just overall discipline. Bethel led the Cardinals in special-teams tackles for five consecutive seasons."
For the move, McClure gave the Falcons a "B-plus."
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BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFL
NFL.com: Rams signing Ndamukong Suh to a 1-year deal
The Rams already possessed arguably the top defensive tackle in the league with Aaron Donald, and they will reportedly pair him with the best defensive tackle available in free agency. According to a report from NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, Ndamukong Suh will sign a 1-year deal with the Rams worth $14 million.
Among the other teams in play for Suh were the Saints and the Titans, who the defensive tackle met with last week. The Jets were also considered to be strong contenders for Suh, but they rescinded their offer to the All-Pro defender on Sunday.
During his three seasons with the Dolphins, Suh recorded 181 tackles and 15.5 sacks. Since beginning his career with the Lions in 2010, Suh as recorded 422 total tackles, 51.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and interception and a defensive touchdown.
By adding Suh, the Rams continue to re-shape their defense. After moving on from pass-rusher Robert Quinn and linebacker Alec Ogletree, the Rams brought in cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. Signing Suh makes a formidable trio of acquisitions for Wade Phillips' defense.
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