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Falcons free agents, Part II: Which 2023 defensive players should re-sign with Atlanta in 2024? 

Seven defensive players are set to become free agents next week, how many should the Falcons consider re-signing? 

DISCLAIMER: The statements and opinions regarding players and/or potential future players in the article below are those of the editorial staff and are not of the Atlanta Falcons' football personnel unless noted in a direct quote.

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Free agency is rapidly approaching, and the Falcons will look both outside and inside the building to fill out the team in 2024.

From the previous 2023 roster, 18 players are set to hit the open market Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET. Some of those players could become pieces under Raheem Morris in his first season in Atlanta.

We've already dove into which offensive players would benefit the Falcons next season, now let's dissect the defensive unit.

Atlanta Falcons defensive lineman Calais Campbell #93 reacts after a sack during the second quarter of the Week 15 Game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina on Sunday, December 17, 2023. (Photo by Jay Bendlin/Atlanta Falcons)

At the end of Calais Campbell's 16th NFL season, the 37-year-old defensive end said he was leaning toward playing another year. If he decides to return for his 17th, he could still be an asset for the Falcons.

Campbell recorded 6.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, 17 quarterback hits and a safety in 2023. One of those sacks turned the counter to 100 total sacks in his career, a feat only 41 other players have reached in recorded NFL history. Not many play in this league beyond 37 years old, let alone have a season like Campbell did. It also should be noted Campbell played in 68% of the Falcons defensive snaps in 2023, too. 

Beyond his on-field abilities, Campbell provided a presence in the locker room that many looked up to, from a first-year player like Zach Harrison to a tenured veteran like Grady Jarrett. That kind of leadership speaks volumes for a Falcons team looking to change the tide.

Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker Bud Dupree #48 defends during the third quarter of the Week 14 Game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia on Sunday, December 10, 2023. (Photo by Jay Bendlin/Atlanta Falcons)

The Falcons saw an uptick in sacks from last season to this season, jumping from 21 sacks in 2022 to 42 in 2023. Bud Dupree played a significant role in that. The Georgia native accounted for 6.5 sacks while also recording eight quarterback hits. It was Dupree's most productive year since his final season with Pittsburgh in 2020. Dupree, a former first-round pick, was drafted by the Steelers 22nd overall in 2015.

Depending on if the Falcons decide to add another pass rusher in the draft, the veteran presence Dupree provides could help a rookie along while also providing key depth and substance at the position.

Atlanta Falcons cornerback Jeff Okudah #1 lines up during the second half of the Week 13 Game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday, December 3, 2023. (Photo by Gabriella Ricciardi/Atlanta Falcons)

Last offseason, the Falcons made the move to bring in cornerback Jeff Okudah to start opposite A.J. Terrell, sending a 2023 fifth-round pick to Detroit for the defensive back. While Okudah battled an early training camp injury, he still started nine games, appearing in 13 total.

Opposing quarterbacks completed 65.5% of their passes when targeting Okudah, averaging 13.9 yards per completion. Okudah recorded three pass breakups and a tackle for a loss in his first season in Atlanta. 

Rookie defensive back Clark Phillips III overtook Okudah's starting spot late in the season, but re-signing Okudah could still benefit the Falcons by way of quality depth. 

According to, the estimated contract value for Okudah is about $5.1 million per year. That's a lot lower than the $10 million per year estimate for Kendall Fuller, who has listed as the top cornerback set to hit the market this offseason.

Atlanta Falcons cornerback Tre Flowers #33 prior to the Week 3 Game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan on Sunday, September 24, 2023. (Photo by Jay Bendlin/Atlanta Falcons)

Speaking of the cornerback position, when Okudah went down with injury at the beginning of the season, Tre Flowers stepped up. Flowers started three games at cornerback and appeared in all 17, spending a lot of that time on special teams (70% of unit's snaps to be precise).

Opposing quarterbacks completed 64.3% of their passes when targeting Flowers, averaging 14.7 yards per completion. The sixth-year cornerback recorded two pass breakups in 2023 and a tackle for a loss. 

Depth is always a necessary motivation when building a roster, and Flowers could be an option for Atlanta's secondary.

Remaining free agents: Quarterback Logan Woodside, wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge, offensive lineman Matt Hennessy, fullback Keith Smith, wide receiver Van Jefferson, running back Cordarrelle Patterson, quarterback Feleipe Franks, offensive lineman Ethan Greenidge, wide receiver Scotty Miller, wide receiver Mack Hollins, tight end MyCole Pruitt, defensive end Kentavius Street, defensive end Joe Gaziano and defensive tackle Albert Huggins

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