The Atlanta Falcons made a flurry of roster moves on Monday morning and topped it off by announcing the signing of veteran inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski.
The former Chicago Bears fourth-round pick comes to Atlanta on a one-year deal.
Kwiatkoski, 28, joins a Falcons linebacker group that consists of Deion Jones, Rashaan Evans, Mykal Walker, Troy Andersen and Dorian Etheridge.
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Kwiatkoski’s Best Year Came in 2017
In the 2016 NFL Draft, the Bears traded their fourth (117th overall) and sixth-round picks (206th overall) to the LA Rams in order to move up to snag Kwiatkoski at 114 overall.
As a rookie, the West Virginia product started seven games and led Chicago in tackles in two games. His production increased the following season, which also remains his best year to date as he appeared in eleven games (sis starts) and logged 47 tackles and two sacks. According to Pro Football Focus, he finished ranked as the third-best inside linebacker in run-stop percentage and fourth-best in pass-rush productivity.
To some surprise, Kwiatkoski lost his starting job in 2018 to rookie Roquan Smith. Nonetheless, he made the best of his season and recorded his first reception since high school against Mitch Trubisky during a two-point conversion play. Kwiatkoski’s usage went up in 2019 after Smith was injured. He recorded a team-high ten tackles and a sack on Kirk Cousins during one start and another sack, plus an interception during another.
After four years in Chicago, Kwiatkoski signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Las Vegas Raiders. He became a true starter during the 2020 season until losing the job, once again, in 2021, appearing in just eight games last year, mainly playing on special teams.
In six NFL seasons, Kwiatkoski has recorded 286 tackles (205 solo), seven sacks and six forced fumbles.
Kwiatkoski Joins a Familar Face
Atlanta has now signed six former Bears this offseason, which makes sense since the team added a handful of Bears to their coaching staff and front office, including former Bears’ general manager Ryan Pace.
The team hired Pace in February to serve as a senior personnel executive, who is no stranger to the Falcons’ front office after working with general manager Terry Fontenot in New Orleans for 13 seasons. However, after 15 total years with the Saints, Pace left to take the Bears GM job in 2015, where he was until he was fired at the conclusion of the 2021 season.
Chicago decided to move on from Pace after seven seasons, a 48-65 overall record and failing to log a playoff win. During his seven-year regime, the Bears made it to the playoffs twice, but never made it past the first round. Their first post-season birth under Pace came in 2018 when they went 12-4 but then they were eliminated in the wild-card round. Two years later, they made it to the playoffs after an 8-8 season in 2020, but again, were eliminated in the wild-card round.
After letting Trubisky walk in free agency, they threw rookie quarterback Justin Fields in the fire, who wasn’t ready to play at the next level just yet and the Bears finished the 2021 season with a 6-11 record.
Pace is joined by some other former Bears coaches in Atlanta, including offensive coordinator Dave Ragone, quarterbacks coach Charles London, running backs coach Michael Pitre and outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino. Not to mention ex-Bears general manager Phil Emery, whom Pace replaced in Chicago and is now working as a senior personnel executive under Fontenot as well.