Geno Atkins’ illustrious career in Cinncinatti is over, and now, he’s been cleared for all football activity. The torn rotator cuff could’ve been the motivation behind the Bengals not re-signing the former Bulldog, and though he’s 32, Atkins is fully capable of providing a few game-changing plays week in and week out.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 19, 2021
Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith have been persistent on the team’s direction this offseason, clearly stating multiple times the franchise isn’t rebuilding. The roster may suggest otherwise, but coaching matters in the NFL, so I will give the new regime the benefit of the doubt. If they are looking to compete, bringing in Geno Atkins could absolutely give this defense more credibility immediately. SportsTalkATL’s Jake Gordon has been adamant about Atkins returning to Georgia.
Correction** this is Atkins’ career grade among DI not just 2020 pic.twitter.com/IZt8ZysxfV
— PFF (@PFF) March 19, 2021
QB pressures among DIs since 2010:
1. Geno Atkins – 580
2. Aaron Donald – 579
3. Ndamukong Suh – 559
4. Fletcher Cox – 503 pic.twitter.com/FY2Rhrr0nt
— PFF (@PFF) February 18, 2021
Obviously, Atkins got a three-year head start on Aaron Donald, but Donald is an all-time great. You can’t pay a guy for past performance, but he was still very effective on a bad Bengals defense in 2020. I think if you’re the Falcons and looking for some cheap help to make an impact and possibly mentor Marlon Davidson, look no further than Geno Atkins.
There’s no guarantee that he won’t command a big contract, but at this point in his career — I don’t see it. Regardless, Atkins would provide an immediate pass rush up the middle for a Falcons team that’s hoping to carve out a new defensive identity. With so many other quality players signing one-year deals, Terry Fontenot could persuade him to come home on a prove-it deal. The former Georgia Bulldog could show the rest of the league exactly how much he still has in the tank in hopes of attracting his last major multi-year deal in the 2022 offseason.
I prefer an edge rusher over an interior defender, but Justin Houston might be the only viable option on the market as of right now. With Atkins and Grady Jarrett pushing the pocket, the Falcons edge defenders will receive less attention. I doubt Fontenot makes this move, given his history with signing free agents being bargain deals, but if he’s true to his word about not rebuilding, he has to at least inquire about Atkins’ services.