The Atlanta Falcons announced Thursday that they've agreed to terms with linebacker Deone Bucannon.
A former first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Bucannon is a versatile defender who offers an intriguing skillset for the Falcons. Bucannon, 27, most recently split his time playing for the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the 2019 season. He was a core special teams player during the first half of the season with Tampa Bay, but he became a part of the Giants' defensive rotation after landing in New York.
Prior to the 2019 season, Bucannon played for five seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. While in Arizona, Bucannon started 56 games and played multiple positions, including safety and linebacker. With the Cardinals, Bucannon recorded 406 tackles, 27 tackles for a loss, 12 pass defenses, seven forced fumbles and two interceptions.
The Falcons' 2020 offseason has been largely about adding versatility to their defense, and this move is a continuation of that theme. At 6-foot-1 and 211 pounds, Bucannon is much smaller than a typical linebacker – even by today's standards – but he offers the physicality to play a role in a big nickel package. His athleticism at the linebacker position is also a positive and something the Falcons covet on their defense.
Atlanta lost its leading tackler De'Vondre Campbell in free agency this offseason, but the Falcons believe third-year linebacker Foye Oluokun can step into a starting role. In addition, the team drafted Mykal Walker in the fourth round, who figures to have a rotational role in this defense. By adding Bucannon, the Falcons have another veteran to compete with players like LaRoy Reynolds for a role in Atlanta.