Desperately in need of a legitimate pass rusher, the Falcons are bringing in one of the most productive sack artists of the 21st century.
Veteran defensive end Dwight Freeney agreed to terms with Atlanta on Tuesday, the team announced. Freeney chose the Falcons over the Bengals, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported, via a source with knowledge of the deal.
"We didn't bring him here to coach," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said Wednesday morning. "We brought him in to rush."
The seven-time Pro Bowler visited both teams in May, while holding out hope that the Cardinals would reciprocate his interest in a reunion.
Signed off the street in mid-October last season, Freeney was a revelation in Arizona, using his trademark spin move to rack up a team-leading eight sacks in just 11 games. That campaign brought his total numbers to 119.5 sacks in 194 games over 14 seasons.
Now 36 years old and firmly in the twilight of a career that will garner serious Hall of Fame consideration five years after his retirement, Freeney will spend the 2016 season as a rotational edge rusher.
In other words, he will be Atlanta's version of DeMarcus Ware, contributing in high-leverage situations while mentoring 2015 first-round draft pick Vic Beasley.
Much like a young Freeney, Beasley boasts one of the league's quickest first steps. In an ideal scenario, the veteran will help Beasley reach his potential by refining his technique and passing along a few tricks of the trade.
The addition of Freeney is welcome news for a fan base that has watched the Falcons manage fewer sacks than any team in the league over the past three seasons.