The Atlanta Falcons signed two veteran defensive players on Friday in safety Erik Harris and outside linebacker Brandon Copeland. These moves fill needs for the Falcons at their respective positions.
Harris, 30, started 12 games for Las Vegas in the 2020 season. Prior to his four-year stint with the Raiders, he spent the 2016 season on the New Orleans' Saints roster where Falcons' general manager Terry Fontenot was the assistant general manager/director of pro personnel at the time.
The acquisition of Harris fills an immediate need for the Falcons as the team currently has holes to fill at both starting safety positions. Harris has recorded five interceptions in his career and 20 pass deflections in his career.
As the roster continues to fill out over the next two months, more safeties will be added to the roster. Harris gives the Falcons a veteran presence to lead the group however it shakes out
Copeland, 29, spent the 2020 season with the New England Patriots and started four games. Prior to his time with the Patriots, Copeland had stints with the New York Jets and Detroit Lions. Copeland has familiarity with linebackers coach Frank Bush who spent the 2019-20 seasons serving as the Jets' linebackers coach.
During those two seasons under Bush's leadership, Copeland recorded a career-high 6.5 sacks. In five seasons, Copeland has tallied 119 tackles, 19 quarterback hits and seven sacks.
The Falcons need pass rush help after a season in which the team finished with only 29 in the 2020 season which was No. 23 in the NFL. The signing of Copeland gives new defensive coordinator Dean Pees another player to work with to help create more pressure in the upcoming season.