Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn said the team won't rule out re-signing veteran free-agent outside linebacker O’Brien Schofield, unless Schofield signs elsewhere.
The Falcons made an offer to Schofield this offseason, but the sides couldn’t agree to contract terms. Schofield remains on the opener market, although he has several "good" offers on the table.
"As far as opened or closed, it’s never closed with Scho," Quinn said. "There’s never a time where we close it on a player that we’re connected with, if that makes sense. I’m not going to say we will sign him, but we’ll always have conversation because of our respect for him.
"Not only do I understand what he stands for as a ballplayer, I understand what he stands for as a man. That’s the big thing. So whether he’s here or not here, my connection with him is life-long. That’s why my feelings for him are so strong, and my respect for him is that way."
Schofield played under Quinn for two seasons in Seattle when Quinn was the defensive coordinator and the Seahawks won a Super Bowl. Schofield then signed a one-year, $1.7 million contract to reunite with Quinn in Atlanta.
Last season, Schofield started 10 of 16 games and finished with 28 tackles, four tackles for losses, two sacks, 13 quarterback hits, and one forced fumble. He was viewed as a pass-rusher at first, teaming with Vic Beasley Jr., Adrian Clayborn, and Jonathan Babineaux to comprise the Falcons' best pass-rush combination. As the season progressed, Schofield assumed the starting strongside linebacker role in the base defense ahead of Brooks Reed, who supplanted Schofield as a nickel pass-rusher.
Schofield, who emerged as a vocal team leader, firmly believes he can help enhance the Falcons’ weak pass rush, which finished last in the league with 19 total sacks last season. The Falcons brought in Derrick Shelby and moved Grady Jarrett to nose tackle to help bolster the interior rush, but they need help off the edges.
Quinn was asked if Schofield has the pass-rush ability to help enhance the defense.
"For sure he does," Quinn said. "He’s got speed. He’s got extreme toughness. So as we went through the process, he was certainly somebody that we went through. Now we’re going through some guys here, too.
"It’s not really anything to report on it at this point from our end. Whether it’s now or not, he and I are always connected. That’s a man I respect."
Schofield is working out in Hawaii with former Seahawks teammate Michael Bennett. A return to Seattle could be an option, and Schofield also generated interest from the Jaguars, Cowboys, and Giants, among others.
Schofield said there should be no concerns about an arthritic condition in his left knee. He's missed just one game in the past three seasons.