The Atlanta Falcons unsurprisingly cut ties with disappointing free safety Thomas DeCoud last month, as too many blown coverage assignments and missed tackles sealed his fate as a cap casualty. Strong safety William Moore is locked in as a starter after re-signing with the Falcons last year on a significant deal, and he’s a solid player in the Falcons secondary. Finding a partner for him at FS is one of the Falcons top needs, but they will likely fill it by poaching a rival player.
New Orleans Saints restricted free agent Rafael Bush is the team’s third safety behind rookie SS Kenny Vaccaro and big offseason signing Jairus Byrd, who replaces Malcolm Jenkins (signed with the Philadelphia Eagles and was never expected to be re-signed) at free safety. Bush was in a big fight for playing time on the roster behind Vac, Jenkins, and Roman Harper, and now he’s clearly second-fiddle to Byrd.
The Falcons offered Bush a deal in RFA, and he signed the offer sheet a couple of days ago. Now, the New Orleans Advocate’s Ramon Antonio Vargas reports that Bush would rather sign with the Falcons and hopes the Saints don’t match their offer in restricted free agency. The Saints gave him a low tender worth $1.4 million, so the 26-year-old was ripe for poaching.
Not only is Bush friends with Moore, but he also knows that he would likely start for the Falcons next season if the Saints don’t match their offer sheet. They are clearly looking for free safety help, and Bush could be a breakout player for them and fill up that need. Teams don’t poach rival players without a clear purpose, and it’s evident that Thomas Dimitroff has plans for a player who looks like a significantly more steady option than DeCoud. At this point, I don’t expect the Saints to match the Falcons offer sheet for Bush, but it’s definitely something to watch for closely, especially since Bush would have a starting opportunity in Atlanta. Nobody should be surprised that he would rather sign on with the rivals than stick around in New Orleans behind Byrd.