The Atlanta Falcons finished the 2005 season with an 8-8 record. One of the clearest needs for the team in the following offseason was to find a way to generate a consistent pass rush. The Falcons accomplished that when they pulled off a three-team, draft day trade to acquire defensive end John Abraham from the New York Jets.
“The Predator” had already established himself as a danger to quarterbacks in his previous six years in the NFL with the Jets. Abraham was a first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowler in his second year in the league and had made two more Pro Bowls while in New York.
Injuries cut short his 2006 campaign but began making his presence on the Falcons felt in 2007. He started all 16 games and finished with 10 sacks, 13 quarterback hits and 32 tackles, 10 of those for losses. In 2008, he terrorized opposing quarterbacks with 16.5 sacks and 30 quarterback hits.
In 2010, Abraham had his best season in a Falcons uniform. He was credited with 13 sacks, 17 quarterback hits, 40 tackles with 18 of those for losses and topped it all with the only interception of his career. Abraham was awarded after the season with a Pro Bowl appearance and a second, first team All-Pro award.
Abraham played two more seasons for the Falcons, then on March 1, 2013 he was released along with running back Michael Turner and cornerback Dunta Robinson to clear $15.9 million in salary cap space.
Abraham signed with the Arizona Cardinals as a free agent and put together one more Pro Bowl season before a concussion ended his season and career one game into 2014.
In only seven seasons in Atlanta, Abraham established himself as the franchise leader in sacks with 68.5 and forced fumbles with 24.
Abraham is currently No. 12 on the NFL sacks career leaders list and third on the career forced fumbles list. This is also the first year that Abraham is eligible to be nominated to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Considering what he accomplished in a 15 season NFL career at a demanding position, it’s going to be tough to keep him out.