John Abraham totaled 233 tackles, 68.5 sacks and 25 forced fumbles in seven seasons with the Atlanta Falcons (2006-12). The 6-4, 263-pound defensive end turns 35-years-old in early May, but he’s generating plenty of interest around the NFL. Let’s take a look at the five most likely landing spots for Abraham via 2013 NFL Free Agency (in no particular order).
New Orleans needs to bolster its front seven this offseason and acquire a proven pass-rusher to help make life easier for an overmatched Saints secondary. The team finished next-to-last against the pass and in points allowed and dead last against the run and total defense in 2012.
Abraham could provide a big boost to the pass rush and his veteran leadership could be a great benefit to three of the team’s top four sack leaders last year—defensive ends Junior Galette and Cameron Jordan and linebacker Martez Wilson.
Galette, 24, registered 20 tackles with 5.0 sacks and a forced fumble in 12 games (one start) in his third year. Wilson, 24, played in every game (no starts) and made 19 tackles with 3.0 sacks a forced fumble in his second season. Jordan, 23, started each game, totaling 67 tackles and leading the team with 8.0 sacks and three forced fumbles.
Will Smith finished second with 6.0 sacks and the 31-year-old veteran defensive end could end up being replaced by Abraham if he doesn’t opt to dramatically restructure his contract. As he would with the last team on this list, Abraham would face a bit of transition in changing positions in Rob Ryan’s 3-4 defense in New Orleans.
The Titans possess a plethora of young talent in the middle of their defense, as Zach Brown and Akeem Ayers—each only 23-years-old—collected 197 combined tackles with 11.5 sacks, four interceptions and a pair of forced fumbles in 2012.
And albeit former 2010 first-round pick (No. 16 overall) Derrick Morgan finally showed some promise with a total of 59 tackles with 6.5 sacks and a forced fumble in his third year, the team could really use a stronger pass-rushing presence in the trenches.
Tennessee also runs the 4-3 scheme and finished dead last in points allowed in 2012. Furthermore, the Titans aggressively pursued the Timmonsville, SC native last year and the team also plans to bring Abraham for a visit soon, per Pro Football Talk.
Like Tennessee, Tampa Bay is interested in acquiring Abraham for the second straight year. The Buccaneers could be even more drawn to making the move to get the four-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro pass rusher this year if/when Michael Bennett walks away via free agency. Abraham would add some much-needed experience and veteran leadership to Tampa Bay’s front seven.
Only four of the team’s top dozen leaders in tackles this past season are currently above the age of 25. In addition, the defense finished dead last in the NFL against the pass, and as we’ve seen many times before, a bolstered pass rush strengthens the secondary.
Chris Clemons—the team’s top sack artist—is coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament. It’s also unclear whether Jason Jones and Alan Branch will be back in 2013. While Seattle doesn’t possess a plethora of salary cap space, the team has done well at getting good production out of veteran pass rushers. Moreover, Abraham is currently visiting with the team and is likely to have a strong interest in capping off his career with a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
San Francisco will welcome Abraham after he wraps up his visit with Seattle, according to the USA Today. Though the Niners run the 3-4 defense, Abraham, he was projected as a 3-4 outside linebacker before being drafted by the New York Jets in the first round (No. 13 overall) out of South Carolina in 2000. In six seasons (2000-05) with Gang Green, he played in 73 games (63 starts) and registered a total of 263 tackles with 53.5 sacks and 17 forced fumbles.
Abraham leads the NFL right now among active players with 122 career sacks and if he performs like he did last year—collecting 35 tackles with 10 sacks and six forced fumbles—he’ll be just on the cusp of cracking the Top 10 list of all-time sack leaders (see below).
- Bruce Smith (200)
- Reggie White (198)
- Kevin Greene (160)
- Chris Doleman (150.5)
- Michael Strahan (141.5)
- Jason Taylor (139.5)
- John Randle (137.5)
- Richard Dent (137.5)
- Lawrence Taylor (132.5)
- Leslie O’Neal (132.5)
Michael Gartman is a College Football and NFL Senior Writer, the AFC South and NFC West Lead Writer and the Founder, CEO of GridironGrit.com. He’s also about to start reporting on topics across all sides of the political spectrum and analyze important issues in the liberty movement for a political website. Follow him @_MichaelGartman on Twitter. Be sure to ‘like’ Gridiron Grit on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @GridironGrit to keep up with the latest coverage on college football, the NFL and more!