The Falcons hired Scott Pioli as their assistant GM back in January, and now a couple of players are following him from his old team in Kansas City to Atlanta.
Defensive lineman Tyson Jackson and guard Jon Asamoah, both starters for Kansas City's playoff team last season, joined ex-Dolphin Paul Soliai in signing with the Falcons on Tuesday. The Jackson and Soliai additions are particularly interesting, as they almost certainly signal that Atlanta will shift to more 3-4 looks in the coming season. Both new D-linemen are solid against the run, where the Falcons ranked 31st last season.
Of course, Atlanta was almost equally inept rushing the passer, finishing 30th in sacks. Moving to a more traditional 3-4 could allow the Falcons to bring more heat off the edge from their linebackers, but there's more personnel work to be done to complete that transition. Someone like, say, 2014 draft prospect Khalil Mack would do wonders for the revamped defense, which currently sports Osi Umenyiora, Kroy Biermann and Jonathan Massaquoi -- ends in the 4-3 setup. Joplo Bartu led the team's linebacking corps with 3.5 sacks last season.
Asamoah appeared ticketed for Atlanta all along ... and his presence will be very welcome up front. The Falcons' offensive line was porous pretty much across the board in 2013. Asamoah should inherit the starting RG position, with 16-game starter Justin Blalock returning at LG.
Grade for the Jackson signing: B-minus. Still waiting on guaranteed money here, so the mark could go either way. Right now, at a reported five years and $25 million, Jackson is a large investment for a team that looks somewhat unsettled on defense. He is coming off a very solid 2013 season -- and finished '12 strong, as well -- so between Jackson and Soliai, it will be far tougher to run against the Falcons. In a division where at least the Saints will air it out, is that enough? Grade for the Asamoah signing: B. Again, need to see the $ figures. Assuming that the Falcons landed Asamoah at a fairly reasonable price, this could stand out later as a very impressive move for the opening day of free agency. Asamoah should have something to prove after being squeezed out of playing time in Kansas City, and he is an upgrade over what Atlanta had in place.