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NFL free agency: Four defensive ends who the Falcons could target

The Atlanta Falcons' roster is always changing, but there could be some significant changes when free agency begins on March 18 and with the NFL Draft right around the corner.

Atlanta has a number of positional needs to fill this offseason but none more important than at defensive end. The Falcons have said they are not re-signing Vic Beasley and veteran defensive end Adrian Clayborn is set to hit the open market, leaving the Falcons with five defensive ends on their roster.


NFL teams can begin negotiating with free agents on March 16th but can't sign a player until March 18th at 4 p.m. ET when the new league year begins.

Here are four defensive ends who could be available if they hit the open market (listed in alphabetical order):


Mario Addison

  • Age: 32
  • Current team: Carolina Panthers

Addison is another familiar name to the Falcons, Addison has spent the last eight seasons in Carolina. Although he will be heading into his 12th season, Addison doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon. He's played in at least 14 games over the last seven seasons. According to reports, the dynamic edge rusher is ready to test the market.

  • Why he fits the Falcons: The Falcons' 28 sacks last season were tied for the second-fewest in the league. Over the last four seasons with the Panthers, Addison has recorded 39 of his 55 career sacks and could help generate some much-needed production from that position for Atlanta.

Dante Fowler

  • Age: 26
  • Current team: Los Angeles Rams

Following his career at Florida, Fowler was drafted as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He played 2.5 seasons in Jacksonville before being traded to Los Angeles in the middle of the 2018 season.

Fowler is coming off a season in which he recorded a career-high 11.5 sacks and 56 tackles in 2019. Given his age and the year he is coming off, the market for Fowler could get expensive.

  • Why he fits the Falcons: Fowler and coach Dan Quinn have been connected since their time at the University of Florida in 2012. Quinn was the Gators' defensive coordinator and defensive line coach when Fowler was a freshman. That familiarity coupled with Fowler's production could be a win-win scenario for Atlanta.

Markus Golden

  • Age: 28
  • Current team: New York Giants

If Golden hits the market, he could be an immediate impact player for any team looking for someone who can get pressure on a quarterback. Golden is coming off a 10-sack season with the Giants and could also be looking for a significant long-term deal.

In his rookie season with the Arizona Cardinals, Golden notched 31 tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles. He then went on to record 51 tackles, 12.5 sacks, four forced fumbles in his sophomore season.  After tearing his ACL in the 2017 season, Golden's production dropped off and he was not re-signed.

Golden signed a one-year deal with the Giants in 2019 and proved he's still capable of being dominant coming off the edge. In five seasons in the NFL, Golden has recorded 29 sacks.

  • Why he fits with the Falcons: Production. Golden signed a one-year deal with the Giants in 2019 and proved he's still capable of being dominant coming off the edge. In five seasons in the NFL, Golden has recorded 29 sacks.

Carl Nassib

  • Age: 26
  • Current team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

During his two seasons with the Bucs, Nassib recorded 63 tackles, 25 quarterback hits and 12.5 sacks.

Nassib is an intriguing player to keep an eye on because of his versatility as an outside linebacker/defensive end. While his stats don't jump off the sheet, he's the epitome of consistency.

Nassib became more of a rotational player for Tampa in 2019 and still made a significant impact in his limited snaps. Depending on his price, he could be someone the Falcons invest in given his age and production.

  • Why he fits with the Falcons: Atlanta needs consistent production from their pass-rushers and Nassib has shown he's capable. Plus, the Falcons are familiar with Nassib having played Tampa Bay twice a year since he was signed by the Bucs after being cut by the Browns in 2018.

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