Even though he recorded just one tackle in one appearance last season and has looked washed up over the past couple of years, former New Orleans Saints inside linebacker Jonathan Vilma has still managed to receive some interest on the free agent market this offseason. The Dallas Cowboys very briefly kicked around the idea of adding Vilma as veteran depth in the aftermath of Sean Lee’s season-ending injury, but they quickly shook off the idea of signing either him or Brian Urlacher. The rival Atlanta Falcons also started to show interest in Vilma about a week ago after losing Sean Weatherspoon to a season-ending injury for a second straight year, but they have still maintained that interest.
In fact, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that the Falcons are so interested in Vilma that they are working him out today, and Thomas Dimitroff could make the move to sign him if he has a clean bill of health. At 32, Vilma doesn’t have much left in the tank, and it would be cringe-worthy stuff watching him trying to get off blocks. The Falcons need depth, though, and adding a veteran to a very young, intriguing group of LBs could help bring them along, especially since Vilma is touted for his leadership, experience, and past production (he’s the sort of guy who racks up tackles to mask his deficiencies).
I don’t see Vilma as a good option for the Falcons, but they must feel that they are fresh out of options and view the mentor aspect of signing him as a key bonus. Weatherspoon’s injury has put them in panic-mode at linebacker, but this roster has some interesting talent at LB in Prince Shembo and Yawin Smallwood when looking at the backups. Plus, they do have Akeem Dent, Paul Worrilow, and Joplo Bartu.