On October 17, CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin proposed the Falcons trade a 2024 sixth-round pick for defensive end Carl Lawson.
“New York paid Lawson big bucks to join the D-line back in 2021, but he’s no longer needed in Robert Saleh’s ferocious front,” Benjamin wrote. “Atlanta, meanwhile, is perpetually in need of pass-rushing assistance.
“Call it a classic low-risk, high-reward swap for a former standout veteran with a once-bloated contract.”
This is the first time the mainstream media has connected the Falcons to the Milton (Ga.) high school product. But other NFL writers have argued that Atlanta needs to improve its pass rush.
Through six weeks, the Falcons have the fourth-fewest sacks in the league with 10. However, the Falcons are third in pressure rate at 29.6%. They are also 11th in quarterback hits.
That’s quite different from last season when Atlanta was last in pressure rate, second-to-last in sacks and third-to-last in quarterback hits.
Therefore, edge rusher doesn’t appear to be Atlanta’s biggest need at the moment. Then again, the NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles proved in 2022 that it’s not possible to have too many edge rushers. So, the Falcons could always add another to the rotation.
Lawson doesn’t have any sacks or quarterback hits this season. But he had 7 sacks and 24 quarterback hits in 17 starts last year.
Part of the problem for Lawson has been a lack of playing time. He played 58% of the Jets’ defensive snaps in 2022. This season, he’s lined up for only 73 defensive snaps (24%). The Jets have also made him a healthy scratch twice.
The Falcons may not be able to offer a lot more playing time for Lawson with Calais Campbell, Bud Dupree, Arnold Ebiketie and others on the edge. But if Atlanta is seeking to add depth along the edge for a cheap price, Lawson is an interesting player to target.