Falcons will have interest in Justin Forsett

The Atlanta Falcons will have strong interest in running back Justin Forsett if he hits the free-agent market, according to a league source with knowledge of the situation.

Forsett, who turns 30 in November, rushed for a career-high 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns for the Baltimore Ravens this past season while replacing the suspended Ray Rice. Forsett made a modest $730,000 while playing on a one-year contract.

Forsett does have a tie to the new coaching staff. He played four seasons with the Seattle Seahawks and overlapped with new Falcons coach Dan Quinn when Quinn was the Seahawks’ assistant head coach in charge of the defensive line. Forsett developed a strong reputation for being respected in the locker room. He also was Marshawn Lynch's roommate in college at Cal.

The Falcons want to upgrade the running back position, with aging veteran Steven Jackson expected to be released. The team has yet to talk to Jackson about his status because he was traveling.

Quinn, general manager Thomas Dimitroff and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan all expressed confidence in second-year player Devonta Freeman to handle the load. But the Falcons need more bodies at the position regardless, with Jacquizz Rodgers and Antone Smith headed to free agency. Freeman and Forsett would be a nice one-two combination, although the Falcons probably don’t want to lose Smith’s big-play ability, either.

The 5-foot-8-inch, 197-pound Forsett runs with speed and power. He excelled in the zone-blocking scheme run by former Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, who also coached Forsett with the Houston Texans. The Falcons will use a zone-blocking scheme under new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, making Forsett an ideal fit.

Forsett, a former seventh-round pick of the Seahawks who has played with five different teams, said the Ravens have expressed interest in bringing him back and that he wants to come back to Baltimore, but he is likely to attract his share of attention in free agency, which begins March 10.

Last season, the Falcons finished ranked 24th in the league in rushing at 93.6 yards per game. Quinn said his philosophy as coach is to bring more balance to the offense with a stronger run game.