Abraham visits Seahawks, 49ers next, possibly Saints and Titans as well
Abraham has been extremely effective when on the field ever since racking up 4.5 sacks in six games as a rookie in 2000. He totaled 53.5 sacks in six seasons with the Jets, who selected him 13th overall in the 2000 NFL Draft, then finished his seven year stint in Atlanta with 68.5 sacks as a Falcon. He is a four-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro selection.
There is no surprise that the Seahawks would be interested in the pass rush prowess of Abraham. They are legitimate Super Bowl contenders with a dominant defense that lacks only one thing - pass rushers. Two Seahawks registered more than 3.0 sacks in 2012. One of them is Chris Clemons, who is 31 years old and coming off a late season ACL tear. The other is Bruce Irvin, who registered 8.0 sacks as a situational pass rusher in his rookie season. The Seahawks would likely be interested in using Abraham at their "Leo" pass rush position until Clemons is recovered from knee surgery, and they could continue to use the additional pass rusher even once Clemons returns. Signing with Seattle would also allow Abraham to play the same 4-3 defensive end position that he played in Atlanta.
The 49ers are not as obvious of a destination. They run a 3-4 defense, so Abraham would likely be forced to play an outside linebacker role rather than the defensive end role he's been accustomed to. The 49ers have two productive outside linebackers in Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks. However, like the Seahawks, the 49ers had only two players top 3.0 sacks in 2012 (Smith with 19.5 and Brooks with 6.5). The 49ers would likely be interested in using Abraham as a situational pass rusher who would prevent teams from focusing solely on Aldon Smith.
The Saints would be an interesting landing spot as well, where Abraham would take on an outside linebacker role in Rob Ryan's 3-4 defense. The Saints had three players top 3.0 sacks in 2012, but no one had more than 8.0. With one of the worst defenses we've seen in recent history, the Saints could use all the help they can get, and Abraham - who had 10.0 sacks in 2012 - could definitely provide a boost in the pass rush.
The Titans would provide Abraham's familiar 4-3 defensive scheme, but he may not be able to get quite as much playing time in Tennessee with young first-round pick Derrick Morgan and recent free agent acquisition Kamerion Wimbley both projecting as starters at defensive end. However, the Titans were reportedly interested in Abraham last offseason before he re-signed with the Falcons, and they had no player register more than 6.5 sacks in 2012. Ranked dead last in scoring defense last season, it's no surprise that the Titans are looking for help on that side of the ball.
Although Abraham will turn 35 years old in May, he should still have plenty left in the tank. He has 32.5 sacks over the past three seasons and can provide a pass rushing presence in any defensive scheme. Because he is getting up there in age, I'd expect that he'd like to sign with a legitimate Super Bowl contender, making the Seahawks and 49ers the favorites to land his services. I wouldn't rule out the Saints, however, who are just a year removed from a 13-3 season and recently hired a well regarded defensive coordinator. The Titans don't seem like a very realistic option, but they do have the most cap room of the four teams I've mentioned.
Right now, my guess is Abraham ends up with the Seahawks. When you combine the team's need, the scheme fit, the potential of the team, and the cap room (Seahawks have second most of the teams mentioned), I think they make the most sense as Abraham's destination.