The Lions released Dronett at the end of the 1996 season, and he was rehired by the Falcons, who had just hired as their new head coach Dan Reeves, who had originally drafted Dronett to play for the Broncos. Dronett played a significant role in the Falcons' defense, which ranked second in the NFL against the run, allowing only 75.2 rushing yards per game, and produced 313 tackles, 29.5 sacks, and 13 forced fumbles. When the Falcons won the NFC Championship in 1998, Dronett played in Super Bowl XXXIII against the Denver Broncos. In January 2000, he signed a five-year contract worth $20 million. In September, he suffered a torn ACL when sacking the Carolina Panthers quarterback. He suffered several other injuries, including knee and shoulder problems, over the next two seasons that limited his ability to play. He was released by the Falcons in 2003.
In 2006, Dronett began to exhibit paranoia, confusion, fear, and rage. According to his family, his behavior changed radically. He was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor in 2007. Its removal did not alleviate Dronett's symptoms. He confronted his wife with a gun on January 21, 2009. As she ran for safety, he turned the gun on himself. His death was ruled a suicide by the Gwinnett County Medical Examiner's office. After his death, his brain was tested at Boston University School of Medicine's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy. Scientists determined that Dronett suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain disease associated with repeated head trauma. He left a wife, Chris, and two daughters, Berkley and Hayley.
30° 04.135, -093° 45.661
Forest Lawn Memorial Park