"John has been our most productive pass-rusher since we've been here," Smith said, according to ESPN.com. "Chronologically, his age may say one thing, but his body says another. John will still command how they're going to block him and that's going to open other options for (new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan) and what we want to do schematically."
Abraham has proven over his career that he will produce on the field. The next question becomes will the Falcons have players who can get the job down with him. Defensive end Ray Edwards struggled in his first season with Atlanta, and the team will expect more than the 3.5 sacks he put up in 2011. Smith also expects bigger contributions from rotation players Kroy Biermann and Lawrence Sidbury and defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux.
The Falcons had 33 sacks last season, putting them in the bottom third of production in that category. The league average for sacks was 37.1.
"You don't want to have just one guy that's getting all the production," Smith said. "You want other defensive linemen and linebackers being productive pass-rushers. If you look at Coach Nolan's 14 years as a defensive coordinator, he's been one of the most productive on third down. You want to have a scheme that puts added pressure on the quarterback on third downs."