Whether it’s giving big contracts to players that failed to produce, or to sign someone to bolster their needs only to make it worse, Atlanta had their fair share of swings and misses in bringing in new players. And a few of them stand out as one who fans would want to forget.
Here are the top five worst free-agent signings in Atlanta Falcons history:
5. Peerless Price
In 2002, Peerless Price had a very good season with the Buffalo Bills. The standout wide receiver caught 94 passes for 1,252 yards and 9 touchdowns for the year. That stellar play prompted the Falcons to sign him on a 7-year, $37.5 million deal in 2003.
Hoping they will get the same receiver that excelled in Buffalo, Atlanta ended up with a dud. In his two-year stint with the Falcons, Price tallied a mere 109 receptions and 1,413 yards with only 6 touchdowns.
Widely considered to be a bust of an acquisition, Atlanta released Price in 2005.
4. Tyson Jackson
Defensive lineman Tyson Jackson signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons in 2014 in the hopes of upgrading their defense. He was supposed to bolster their pass rush that ranked 30th in sacks with a mere 32 total the year before. With Jackson, the Falcons became worse, with their pass rush ranking 30th in the league while being shuffled in both DT and DE positions.
Within the span of 35 games, he had a dismal 29 solo tackles and did not have a single sack.
He did reach the Super Bowl with Atlanta, being part of the infamous blown 28-3 lead while managing to record just 1 total tackle in the big game.
Jackson was released by the team after three seasons.
3. Tyrone Williams
Originally drafted by the Green Bay in 1996, cornerback Tyrone Williams managed to play for the Packers for 7 years. During that stint, he started in 94 games, recording totals of 445 tackles and 19 interceptions. From 1998 to 2001, Williams had at least 4 takeaways per season.
Signed in 2003 to a four-year, $10.3 million contract to replace Ashley Ambrose, Williams failed to impress during his tenure with Atlanta.
One of the biggest setbacks to Williams’ stint was his attitude. At the start of Falcons’ training camp, Williams reported out of shape. He then got suspended by then-head coach Dan Reeves for terrible conduct in Week 5 for berating one of his assistants.
Williams only started in 6 games for the Falcons and posted a horrendous 20 combined tackles, 2 defended passes, and 0 interceptions before getting cut in 2004.
2. Dunta Robinson
Yet another failed cornerback experiment for Atlanta.
The Falcons needed to strengthen their secondary after the 2009 season. They brought in and signed Robinson to a massive six-year, $57 million contract, with $22 million of it guaranteed.
Robinson’s rookie year with the Houston Texans in 2004 was terrific. He started in all 16 games and recorded 87 total tackles and 6 interceptions. He remained solid for his next five years in Houston, putting up a total of 309 tackles and 7 takeaways during that stint.
He failed to live up to his contract. In his three years with the Falcons, he pulled in 4 interceptions in 47 total games played. He was terrible when it comes to coverage. At one point he was ranked the 105th best CB in coverage by Pro Football Focus in 2011. In the same year, PFF ranked Robinson as the 101st best cornerback among 109 candidates.
Robinson was released in 2013.
1. Rey Edwards
Ray Edwards was one of, if not the top available defensive ends in 2011. He was part of a terrific defensive front that featured Jared Allen, Kevin and Pat Williams that made up the famous “Williams Wall”. In his four-year stint with the Minnesota Vikings he recorded a total of 29.5 sacks.
The Falcons managed to lure him to the tune of five years and $30 million, with $11 million of it being guaranteed.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, they didn’t get the same production from their prized signing. Without a stellar defensive front lining up alongside Edwards, he was practically invisible. Over the next two years, Edwards managed to sack the quarterback only 3.5 times in 16 games played. In 2012, he recorded no sacks for the season, suiting up for Atlanta 9 times.
The lack of production and an accompanying poor attitude became the final straw. The once highly touted acquisition, Edwards was cut by Falcons in 2012, in what could be the worst free-agent signing in their franchise’s history.