ESPN The Philadelphia Eagles, in a midst of a seven-game losing streak and with their defense struggling, surprisingly released defensive end Jason Babin on Tuesday. Babin’s release came after the team had earlier placed starting receiver DeSean Jackson on injured reserve with fractured ribs. “We appreciate everything that Jason has given this team over the last couple of years. We wish him all the best as he continues his career,” coach Andy Reid said in a statement. “By releasing him today, this gives us an opportunity to give more playing time to some of the younger guys in the defensive line rotation.” Babin, 32, had a career-best 18 sacks for the Eagles last season after re-signing with the team as a free agent two offseasons ago with a five-year, $28 million contract. He had 5½ sacks this season. The Eagles fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo on Oct. 16 but Philadelphia has actually performed worse under new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Philadelphia has allowed over 30 points in four of the five games since Castillo’s firing and 28 in the other — all losses.
If I am Atlanta Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff, I am on the phone with Jason Babin’s agent immediately and in contract negations with the pass rushing specialist who totaled 18.0 sacks in 2011.
The Atlanta Falcons (10-1) are one of the best teams in the NFL and should have the luxury of home field advantage in the NFC playoffs, however they have one fatal flaw which has bothered me all season long, which is the lack of a pass rush. I have been discussing this flaw at length recently, because being able to apply pressure to the opposing quarterback is one of the most important dimensions that a football team can have during playoff time, and it is tough to win in the postseason without a pass rush.
The Falcons have managed just 26 sacks this season, good for just 16th in the NFL, and if you watch the tape they have really struggled to get consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Of the Falcons 26 sacks, 9.0 have come from 34 year old veteran John Abraham, who is once again one of the best pass rushers in the league. After Abraham, no Atlanta Falcon has more than 3.5 sacks (defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux) and when teams scheme for Abraham in the playoffs getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks will be a major concern.
Although Jason Babin is having a down year, his 5.5 sacks in 2012 would still be second on the Atlanta Falcons roster by a margin on 2.0 sacks, and his presence would be a huge upgrade for the Falcons come playoff time. If the Atlanta Falcons are serious about winning the Super Bowl this season, they need to be able to pressure the opposing quarterback consistently in the post season, which they will not be able to do as presently constructed. The Atlanta Falcons perusing Jason Babin to bolster their pass rush for the 2012 NFL playoffs should logistically be an absolute no-brainer for Thomas Dimitroff and the Falcons front office.
UPDATE: Jason Babin would have to pass through waivers before anyone is free to sign him, and although he makes a lot of money both for the remainder of this year and next, there is always the chance a team who is far under the salary cap could claim him before he reaches free agency. If Al Davis was still alive and running the Raiders, he would probably be all over claiming Babin, but at this point of the season I doubt anybody claims him and pays him his current salary. Stranger things have happened, stay tuned.
UPDATE: Bad news Atlanta Falcons fans, Jason Babin did not slip through waivers, because he was claimed by the Jacksonville Jaguars. This means the Jaguars will pick up the rest of his salary for the 2012 season and the rest if his contract, which pays him over $4 million dollars through the 2013 season. This contract is a bargain for a Jaguars team which desperately lacks a pass rush.