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Falcons coach Dan Quinn wants to retain Adrian Clayborn, O'Brien Schofield

Adrian Clayborn (99) was second on the Atlanta Falcons with three sacks and O'Brien Schofield (50) emerged as a team leader last season. AP Photo/Mark Zaleski

INDIANAPOLIS -- Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn expressed his desire to keep defensive end Adrian Clayborn and outside linebacker O'Brien Schofield despite both being headed for free agency.

Clayborn and Schofield each signed one-year deals with the team last season. The Falcons need all the help they can get on defense, and both players showed flashes in their first season with the team.

"I do," Quinn responded when asked if he wants Clayborn and Schofield re-signed. "Here are some of the things that stand out for those two guys: relentless competitors, both of them. They embody the attitude that we like."

Clayborn was second on the team with three sacks to go with a team-leading 15 quarterback hits. His production stood out a little more considering the Falcons finished with a league-low 19 quarterback sacks.

"Now, for me, our continual push in terms of our pass rush, it's not going to be just one guy," Quinn said. "It comes from a group when we're rushing at our best together. So, I kind of think Clayborn, although he has flexibility to go inside ... if he's back with us, I'll feature him probably more outside to in than inside to out. But, we'll see where it goes as we get closer to free agency. But both guys, I just think the world of them."

Obviously, it will come down to how much the Falcons are willing to pay each player.

"It usually does," Quinn said with a laugh. "If that (wasn't) the case, I'd have a stock full of guys who I have a great connection with. Honestly for them, too, that's a choice for them and their families and career fits."

Clayborn made $3 million last season while Schofield made $1.7 million. The point can be made that Clayborn outperformed defensive linemen around him such as Tyson Jackson, who has a base salary of $4.25 million in 2016.

As for Schofield, he replaced Brooks Reed as the starting strong-side linebacker and Reed made $6.9 million last season. Schofield emerged as a team leader and has value as a strong voice in the locker room, but he knows he has to quiet any concerns about an arthritic condition in his left knee.

  • Quinn would not comment on nose tackle Paul Soliai not agreeing to terms on a restructured contract and, thus, setting up his release at the start of the new league year. Quinn said no other players have been approached yet about restructuring contracts.

  • Quinn said there will be competition at free safety between Ricardo Allen and Robenson Therezie as well as at strong safety as the Falcons find a replacement for William Moore, who was released. Kemal Ishmael would appear to have the first shot at replacing Moore, while Quinn didn't rule out the possible return of veteran Charles Godfrey.

  • On Matt Ryan's desire to get receivers together for unscheduled offseason workouts, Quinn said, "I know some other teams have done it, and I think, honestly, I think it's a really good idea when guys get together like that. To me, anytime a team can get together even outside of the building, that's kind of where the team chemistry takes places."

  • Quinn reiterated how the center position is at the front of the team's thinking, via free agency or the draft. He didn't rule out Mike Person, although Person struggled there. "I was really pleased with Mike in some areas and some, I wasn't. Same thing with Gino (Gradkowski). So, full competition is going to be on at the spot." Person has two years left on his deal while Gradkowski is bound for free agency.

  • Quinn said he has a ton of respect for linebacker Justin Durant, who was released due to injury concerns. Quinn likes the versatility of Philip Wheeler, who is set to become a free agent as well but could be re-signed for depth at a need position.