Terms: Terms not disclosed.
Grade: C+ Crawford wasn't the sexiest name out there, but Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff implied earlier this week that the Falcons weren't going to make a big splash. Dimitroff went on to say that addressing both the offensive and defensive lines was a must, so this was accomplished with this addition. Crawford had 9.5 sacks in three seasons with the Cowboys and is capable of playing any spot on the line, although he grew accustomed to playing left defensive end. Last season, Crawford had three sacks and six quarterback hits in 16 games, starting 10. An executive familiar with Crawford had this to say about him: "Tough guy. Competitive. Average athlete. He's not a natural rusher but an effort guy."
What it means: Crawford is 28, so the Falcons naturally get a little bit younger on the defensive line. The Falcons are not going to re-sign 35-year-old defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux and have informed 30-year-old defensive tackle Tyson Jackson of his release. And the chances of defensive end Dwight Freeney, 37, returning after expressing a desire to continue playing seem slimmer now. The Falcons' decision to re-sign Courtney Upshaw and sign an unheralded guy such as Crawford again speaks to not overspending to improve a team coming off a Super Bowl. Dimitroff has said all offseason the Falcons don't have any glaring holes on the roster. Bringing in Crawford doesn’t mean the Falcons are done addressing the defensive line by any means. A natural edge rusher is a must either through free agency or the draft, and a disruptive defensive tackle wouldn’t hurt.
What’s the risk: Whenever you're looking for pass rush help and a guy hasn't had more than four sacks in a single season, there's a risk. It's kind of similar to the Falcons bolstering the pass rush with Derrick Shelby last offseason. Shelby showed signs of being a pass rush contributor with his strength and power, but then he went down with a season-ending Achilles tear. Crawford just might come in and have the most productive season of his career, especially with the attention that reigning NFL sacks leader Vic Beasley Jr. is likely to draw. But you just don't know, and the possibility of Crawford underwhelming is the risk. Crawford joins a pass rush group that includes Beasley, defensive end Adrian Clayborn, who is recovering from a biceps tear, nose tackle Grady Jarrett, Shelby and Upshaw, with a little power from Ra'Shede Hageman and high effort from Brooks Reed sprinkled in.