Ex-Cowboy Jack Crawford could be pleasant surprise for Falcons

Jack Crawford joins the Falcons after having collected seven sacks in the past two seasons in Dallas. Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire

A breakdown of the first week of free agency for the Atlanta Falcons:

Most significant signing: Jack Crawford. The former Dallas Cowboys defensive end wasn't a name most people had heard leading into free agency, but the Falcons signed him to a three-year, $8.8 million deal ($3 million guaranteed) while bargain shopping. Those familiar with Crawford say he's a relentless competitor and a tough guy. Those are the types of qualities coach Dan Quinn wants in a defensive lineman. Crawford played off the left edge with the Cowboys but is versatile enough to play any position along the line. The Falcons view him as a defensive end in the base defense and an interior guy in the nickel.

Most significant loss: Patrick DiMarco. The fullback position is undervalued league-wide, but DiMarco was a one-time Pro Bowl pick and a significant contributor for the Falcons. He opened holes in the running game for both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. DiMarco also showed up in the passing game with 20 catches for 162 yards and three touchdowns in the previous two seasons. Sure, the Falcons can find a fullback through free agency or via the draft, but finding one who fits the system as well as DiMarco could be a challenge.

Player they should have signed: T.J. Lang. The Falcons inquired about the former Packers offensive guard, but Lang obviously was out of their price range. Lang visited Seattle before finally signing with the Detroit Lions. He would have been a nice addition to the outside-zone blocking scheme, but not for $9.5 million per year.

What’s next: The Falcons still need to see if they can lure nose tackle Dontari Poe back to town after Poe already made a visit. At the same time, the Falcons can't overspend on a guy who might not be a game-changer. Poe has other suitors, including the Jaguars, Colts and Dolphins. If Poe isn't an option, then maybe free-agent mystery Johnathan Hankins or recently released Roy Miller could be options at defensive tackle. The Falcons also need to figure out what's going on at right guard with veteran Chris Chester pondering if he wants to continue playing. Even if Chester returns, the Falcons need to find their right guard of the future, although Quinn has confidence in Ben Garland and Wes Schweitzer.

Overall grade: B-minus. As expected, the Falcons haven't made a big splash just yet, although the 340-plus pound Poe would change all that. Re-signing quarterback Matt Schaub, tight end Levine Toilolo, safety Kemal Ishmael, and linebacker LaRoy Reynolds was important in terms of depth. Then getting Andre Roberts as a potential return man and replacement to Eric Weems helps. But again, nothing flashy going on with the Falcons, although general manager Thomas Dimitroff said the Falcons had no major holes to fill.