Steven Means, Former Atlanta Falcons Lineman, Finds New Team

June 20, 2022

Last season, the Atlanta Falcons decided to take a chance on Steven Means to their defensive line rotation. Means, a former 2013 fifth-round pick of the Buccaneers, has bounced around the league since, eventually settling in Atlanta since the 2018 season.

Following this season, which saw the team go 7-10 and just miss out on a playoff berth, the 31-year-old is now transitioning to a new city and team.

Per a report by Pro Football Talk’s Josh Alper, Means is signing with the Baltimore Ravens for the 2022 season. This apparently brings an end to Baltimore’s Derek Wolfe experiment while simultaneously returning a former practice squad player that was released with an injury designation in 2015.

It also sees the end of a fan favorite in Atlanta who was the 2020 Ed Block Courage Award winner during the 43-6 rout of the Las Vegas Raiders for his demonstration of sportsmanship.

What Did Steven Means Contribute To The Falcons Defense?

For a defensive line that had fewer sacks than individual players in 2021, Steven Means provided modest results in limited action. Primarily, what held him back is what holds back most players with potential: the injury bug. Case in point: 2019, he tore his Achilles tendon, 2020 saw him placed on the COVID reserve list, and 2021 saw him on injured reserve following a huge comeback win against the Saints. In said game, he was injured but had a huge strip sack and fumble recovery to set up a touchdown for the offense.

Given that, Means did manage to contribute when his number was called. In his three years for the Falcons, Means started 29 of the 38 games he donned the #55 jersey. He managed to accumulate a pretty decent 95 tackles (52 solo, eight TFL), and also added nine quarterback hits and 4.0 sacks for his tenure.

The more impressive thing for Means was earning the respect of his coaches and teammates, and it showed in the snap count totals. Starting only 29% in his first year, he doubled that total to 59% in 2020 and further increased to 72% in 2021. Keep in mind, this is with an entire season lost to injury, so there’s always that “What if?” question that maybe his 2021 count could’ve passed the 80% threshold.

What Does Steven Means Leaving Mean For The Falcons In 2022?

At first glance, the Falcons losing Means is unfortunate. While the defensive line outside of Grady Jarrett does tend to struggle in pass rush, losing a player who produced, however slightly, is unfortunate. Previously, it was always a problem for the team to generate a pass rush, thus leaving their secondary “gassed” by having less time to cover the opposing wide receivers.

While the Falcons’ defensive front now consists of Jarrett, Marlon Davidson, Ta’Quon Graham, and Arnold Ebiketie, having a rotational player like Means could prove dividends if one of these players succumbed to injury. That said, this does offer more opportunities to younger talent like Ade Ogundeji, Mykal Walker, Troy Andersen, and DeAngelo Malone (the latter two 2022 draft picks). This could also play into defensive coach Dean Pees’ statement about the team as a whole:

We gotta quit this crap of sitting around and thinking that just doing this is fine or being good is okay. It’s not. The expectation has to grow… We got to build a mental attitude that the expectation is to be great on defense, not just OK, It’s been that way for way too long. Coaches come and go, players are the ones that make this game good.

Furthermore, the Falcons have been on a “soft rebuild”, so to speak, and have been signing mid-level rotational talent on one-year deals in anticipation of their 2023 cap space projection of ~$100+ million. If anything, Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith have a plan in store, and we’re just left to speculate.