Falcons sign free-agent linebackers Reed, Durant
ATLANTA (AP) The Atlanta Falcons fortified the middle of new coach Dan Quinn’s defense Tuesday by signing free-agent linebackers Brooks Reed and Justin Durant.
Reed (6-foot-3, 254) had 14 1/2 sacks in four seasons as a starter with the Houston Texans. He started 13 of 16 games in 2014 and had three sacks and his first career interception.
Reed’s signing comes less than two weeks after his 28th birthday.
Durant, 29, has logged eight NFL seasons with Jacksonville, Detroit and Dallas. Durant’s 2014 season with the Cowboys ended when he was placed on IR on Oct. 29 with a torn biceps in his right arm.
Durant (6-1, 230) led the Cowboys with 59 tackles before suffering the injury in Week 8.
One of Atlanta’s key unrestricted free agents is linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who missed the 2014 season with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
The Falcons also announced signing free-agent offensive lineman Mike Person, a backup with the Rams in 2014.
Person (6-4, 300) played in all 16 games last season A seventh-round draft pick by San Francisco in 2011, he spent time with the 49ers, Colts and Seahawks before being claimed off waivers by the Rams in 2013.
The Falcons also re-signed running back Antone Smith, who showed big-play ability while scoring on two runs and three receptions last season. He had 13 catches for 222 yards and 23 carries for 144 yards.
General manager Thomas Dimitroff hinted the team may add more free agents.
”We feel that these signings fit the schemes that Dan and his staff are implementing here,” Dimitroff said in a statement released by the team. ”We knew that we needed to add some players through free agency and we think we have gotten off to a solid start.”
The Falcons last month hired Quinn, the former Seattle defensive coordinator, as the replacement for Mike Smith, who was fired following a 6-10 finish last season.
”We are excited about adding these guys to our team,” Quinn said. ”We believe that they all possess skill sets that fit our schemes and will be pieces to what we are putting together. This is just the first step in putting our roster together, and I am fired up about getting to connect with and work with all of our guys.”
Smith and 2014 rookie Devonta Freeman will be Atlanta’s top returning running backs. The team has released starter Steven Jackson. Top backup Jacquizz Rodgers is an unrestricted free agent.
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