ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons agreed to terms Friday on a three-year deal with John Abraham, the team’s top pass rusher and a key part of the defense last season.
He led the team with 9 1/2 sacks and has 58 1/2 in six seasons with Atlanta, a total that ties him with Chuck Smith for second place in team history. The 33-year-old defensive end also had four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery last season. He had 13 sacks in 2010.
Last week, the Falcons re-signed free safety Thomas DeCoud and backup defensive end Kroy Biermann. Atlanta used its franchise tag on cornerback Brent Grimes. Middle linebacker Curtis Lofton also is a free agent.
No other Atlanta players had more than four sacks last season. The Falcons signed Ray Edwards before the 2011 season to provide a pass-rushing complement to Abraham at defensive end, but Edwards had only 3 ½ sacks.
The Falcons would have been left with a huge void on their defensive front if they had lost Abraham, a four-time Pro Bowl pick who played his first six seasons with the Jets.
“We have said since we have been here that we wanted to be able to keep our core players, and obviously John is one of those guys,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “He has been very productive for us since 2008 and we expect him to continue to provide solid play and leadership to our team.”
Abraham’s 112 career sacks are the most for any active player in the league.
Abraham’s agent, Rich Rosa, did not immediately return a phone call. Financial terms of Abraham’s deal were not announced.
The Falcons have re-signed three free-agent backups: running backs Jason Snelling and Antone Smith and tight end Michael Palmer. They have signed former Pro Bowl linebacker Lofa Tatupu and offensive guard Vince Manuwai.