Having re-signed DT Corey Peters, Atlanta needs only to finish contract negotiations with Johnathan Babineaux to anchor the defensive interior for next season. Perhaps I am overly pessimistic, but there I have a horrible gut feeling that the Babineaux deal won’t be completed, and our best defensive lineman will be wooed by another team. This, of course, despite all implications that Babs will return to the team he was drafted by the 2005. However, if the clock strikes 4 pm on Tuesday, and Babineaux has the option to test the uncertain waters of free agency, Atlanta may be better served trying to attract Henry Melton.
While this situation is unlikely, it remains a possibility and Henry Melton would provide an immediate impact to the Falcons’ defense. Despite coming off of an ACL injury, Melton proved to be a dominant force in the pass game over his last two full seasons in Chicago. Melton recorded 6 sacks in his 2012 pro-bowl campaign, when he led all Defensive Tackles in sacks. Babineaux’s best year, comparable to Melton’s aforementioned 2012 campaign, came over 4 seasons ago in 2009. In 2009, Babineaux also recorded 6 sacks, although recording 3 more combined tackles (47 to Melton’s 44). We can infer then have similar ceilings, although there is no telling what a healthy Melton could have done had he played this season. Babineaux peaked in his fifth NFL season and although his decline has generally declined since then, he has certainly proven to be an anchor to the team and a fan favorite. Even coming off the injury, Melton could still provide stronger play on the inside giving us similar production in a younger body.