NFL rumors are swirling around Courtney Upshaw. The belief is that the former Baltimore Ravens star has finally decided on his new home in the National Football League. After visiting with the New York Jets, the outside linebacker is close to signing a one-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons, according to ESPN. At just 26 years of age, Upshaw is trying to prove to the Falcons that he can be a long-term part of their plans.
Courtney Upshaw was the 35th overall selection in the NFL Draft during 2012. After notching 9.5 sacks during his senior year with the Alabama Crimson Tide, Upshaw was able to convince the Baltimore Ravens to take a chance on him. Expectations were high from the start because of his draft position and the fact that he was coming from one of the best programs in NCAA football. The Ravens were hoping that they had found a dominant pass rusher.
The Baltimore Ravens aren’t too concerned about the loss of Courtney Upshaw. They’ll add defensive players in the upcoming NFL Draft that can replace his contributions. The Ravens are more concerned about the loss of left guard Kelechi Osemele, who signed with the Oakland Raiders very early on in free agency. The addition of Osemele gives the Raiders one of the best offensive lines, if not the best, in the National Football League.
It will be interesting to see where Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn utilizes Courtney Upshaw. With the Baltimore Ravens, he played outside linebacker in a 3-4 defensive scheme. The Falcons play a 4-3 defensive scheme. Upshaw is believed to be slotted for the starting strong side linebacker spot. However, Quinn might also have him put his hands on the ground at the defensive end spot.
The signing of Courtney Upshaw isn’t going to be noticed by casual NFL fans. Close observers, however, know that the Atlanta Falcons have possibly upgraded their defense by signing a player with a unique skill. Upshaw, former Miami Dolphins defensive lineman Derrick Shelby, and former Arizona Cardinals linebacker Sean Weatherspoon are hoping to pump in some life to Dan Quinn’s defense. The Falcons were middle of the pack when it comes to defense, and that’s not good enough.
[Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images]