Heading into the offseason, the Atlanta Falcons were in need of a lot of help. With more than 20 free agents, it was an easy assumption that they would not be able to bring back their entire 2011 team, which isn't a bad thing. So far this offseason, the team has re-signed some of their biggest free agents, including John Abraham and Thomas DeCoud, traded for Asante Samuel, but lost Curtis Lofton to the New Orleans Saints. One June 29, the team added another former Pro Bowl defender in Chris Hope to help lead them to the Super Bowl.
Hope was a third round draft pick by Pittsburgh Steelers in 2002 and had his best season in 2008 while with the Tennessee Titans. He recorded 78 total tackles with one sack and four interceptions on his way to the Pro Bowl team. He wasn't nearly as successful in 2011, recording just 25 total tackles in 10 games with one interception. While he will likely never reach the same success with the Falcons, he will provide experience to a youthful safety spot on the Falcons depth chart.
DeCoud will be entering his fifth year in the NFL and may be one of the most unheralded players on the Falcons defense. In each of the past three seasons, he has improved and is on his way to a great career, which will only be helped by the presence of Hope.
In what was his final season with the Steelers, Hope recorded 97 tackles to help pace the defensive unit in their bid for a championship. Hope has great postseason success, helping to lead the Steelers to the victory in Super Bowl XL against the Seattle Seahawks. The Falcons postseason failures are well-known and the addition of someone with a title win would only help the team grow as a unit.
With a great offense and quality players on defense, the Falcons just needed the extra experience push to get them into the title hunt and even though Hope won't be the savior of the secondary, he should help the Falcons run towards their first championship since Super Bowl XXXIII.
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Hobson Lopes is a fan of the Atlanta Falcons, thanks to Deion Sanders and can be followed on Twitter @HobsonLopes.
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