Last night, Jay Glazer reported that the Atlanta Falcons had released their veteran defensive end acquisition from 2011, Ray Edwards. Edwards had been picked up by the Falcons from the Minnesota Vikings, after compiled 16.5 sacks in his last two seasons in the Purple, proving to be a deadly combo with Jared Allen. However, afters signing to a five-year, $30 million contract, with $12 million guaranteed, Edwards only produced 3.5 sacks in two seasons.
The St. Louis Rams do have a solid rotation at defensive end, typically shuffling William Hayes in for 15-20 snaps per game for Chris Long and Robert Quinn. When healthy, Eugene Sims is commonplace in the lineup as well, ensuring that the defensive line is fresh enough to put on a consistent pass rush without have to blitz on every snap. The Jeff Fisher defense relies heavily on this type of rotation, something that dated back to the Spagnuola days, requiring solid depth at both the defensive tackle and end positions. So, should the St. Louis Rams take a flyer on Ray Edwards?
Well, being released by a team midway through the season is never a good sign for a player. However, the Falcons are not necessarily a team that is starved for talent, losing their first game this season last weekend against the New Orleans Saints. Atlanta’s defensive line got no pressure on Drew Brees, comiling only one sacks, while allowing a 21 of 31 passing night for nearly 300 yards and 3 touchdowns. However, the expectation may have been a bit high for Edwards, especially coming from Minnesota where he was the 4th largest threat on the defensive line, behind the Williams’ boys in the middle and Jared Allen on the end. Even in his best year in 2009, Edwards only put in 43 tackles, 8.5 sacks, and one forced fumble… Robert Quinn has 8.5 sacks and one forced fumble already, only 10 games into his sophomore season.
The asterisk next to Ray Edwards should have been that he played well in unison with other dominate players on the defensive line. Two big body defensive tackles, and a franchise defense end that requires a double team on nearly every snap. Sound familiar? The St. Louis Rams could be a perfect home for the disgruntled Ray Edwards, assuming he is willing to sign for a significantly lesser price tag. Edwards would immediately surplant Sims in the defensive end rotation, and serve as a strong, run-stuffer on the right side against rush heavy offenses like the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks. He would receive little-to-no attention from the offensive line, likely getting the one-on-one matchup on the blind side whenever he was in the game. Throw in the fact that Fisher loves to blitz corners off the edge, and you have a perfect situation for a veteran defensive end to occasionally sneak past the line and wrangle down the quarterback. You can never have too many capable defensive lineman on your roster, the New York Giants two Super Bowl rings are proof of that. Some veteran leadership and fresh, healthy legs in the rotation may be just what the St. Louis Rams need…