Babineaux's effort and production has been appreciated by head coach Mike Smith, who took time to talk about him on Monday:
"Well, Jonathan Babineaux, I think, has really had a very good season,'' Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "He's been very disruptive. You know, Jonathan makes those plays in the defensive backfield – many times he's led the league since we've been here in minus-yardage plays.
"He had the two fumble recoveries [against Washington]. Jonathan has the ability to basically play in three of the four spots on our defensive front. And he's a very good leader of that group; has been since we've been here. He's probably the one constant that we've had now since Day 1. Jonathan is a tough, hard-nosed, smart football player.''
Babineaux has been one of the most impactful defensive tackles over the last few seasons. The 32-year-old is having another terrific season, amassing 38 tackles and leading Atlanta with seven tackle for loss. Since his rookie season of 2005, Babineaux has 49.5 tackles for loss, the best mark in the NFL.
This year, the Texas native is making $4.7 million in base salary this season, ranking him 10th at his position. With the Falcons in the midst of a horrendous season, much of the decision on whether to bring back Babineaux might come down to whether general manager Thomas Dimitroff believes the team is in win-now mode or a rebuild.
This offseason, there will be plenty of options for Atlanta to fill Babineaux's role should they want to go another route. Henry Melton, Randy Starks, Ryan Pickett, Kevin Williams, Jason Hatcher and Paul Soliai. Atlanta also has two other free agents at the position in Corey Peters and Peria Jerry.