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 Post subject: Atlanta Falcons Free Agency Open Thread
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 10:53 am 
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Atlanta Falcons Free Agency Open Thread

10:53 pm March 5, 2014, by Dawson Devitt (D3)
A Few Transactions as Free Agency Nears

Snelling will be missed (AJC)

After a decent lull following the Super Bowl, the NFL is ready to burst to life once again. This is particularly true for fans of a team that had given up most hope around the midpoint of the season. The Falcons have been relatively quiet in free agency the last few years and it appears that will change this off-season. Whether it be due to the fact that the Falcons simply have tons of holes to fill or that jobs are likely on the line, it seems as though sitting back and waiting might not cut it this free agency period. As the free agency bonanza dawns, here’s a few items and links from other writers and sites to help spur some conversations…..

Ironman and Fan Favorite Jason Snelling Retires

This one came as a massive shock to most every Falcons fan. #44 has been a fan favorite for years with his gutsy play, toughness, and overall heart in playing the game. The consummate Falcon never complained about lack of opportunities and played his tail off whenever he got the chance, whether as a backup, on special teams, or taking over in a full-starting role. Two things that epitomize why fans always loved Snelling: #1) the fact that he almost single-handedly carried the Falcons to beat the Bucs in 2009 to end the back-to-back curse forever. And #2), when he broke his jaw against the Giants in the 2012 playoffs (2011 season) and actually played through it. He will be missed.

Corey Peters Re-signed to 1 year Deal

Peters Back in Fold (AJC)

This was news that was both expected, but still met with happiness across the board. Peters has been one of the only forms of consistency and actual hope on an otherwise dreadful defensive line. Most saw this coming when Peters tore his Achilles heel in the next to last game after one of his better years. It would have been insane to think the Falcons wouldn’t have kept him anyway, but this is good for both sides: low risk, high reward for both parties.

Falcons Talking to Babineaux, Hawley

After the deal had been reached, the only other players the Falcons have been reported to be meeting with has been DT Jonathan Babineaux and OC Joe Hawley. There’s still a few days to go, but there’s been no word of the Falcons in “serious” discussions to desperately keep either of the two.

Seem Prepared to Let All Others Test or Walk

There’s really no big names after Peters or Babineaux, but the Falcons seem ready to let all the other soon-to-be free agents either test the market and then bring them back or let them walk away altogether. Mike Johnson, Peria Jerry, Chase Coffman, and Dominique Franks are among the most notable. Robert McClain is an unrestricted free agent.

Several Possible Targets Tagged

Falcons Appear Done with Coffman (AJC)

The franchise tag wasn’t used a ton in 2014, but it definitely kept a few dynamic players off the market. And most of them could have have been somewhere close to the Falcons radar, including DE Greg Hardy, OC Alex Mack, and LB/DE Brian Orakpo. Of course, that leaves a huge market for all the other free agents that could have an impact.

A Very Deep Free Agent Class

While some of the biggest names were tagged or re-signed, this shaping up to be just what the doctor ordered for the Falcons this off-season. If they play their cards right, it appears the Falcons could definitely fill a number of their golf course amount of holes on their roster.

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 Post subject: Re: Atlanta Falcons Free Agency Open Thread
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 10:55 am 
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Champ Bailey says he’d be open to playing safety
Posted by Curtis Crabtree on March 5, 2014, 11:31 PM EST

For the first time in his 15-year NFL career, cornerback Champ Bailey is a free agent.

Bailey is being released by the Denver Broncos after spending the last 10 seasons in Mile High. He was originally drafted by the Washington Redskins in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft before being dealt to the Broncos following the 2003 season. He initially signed a seven-year deal with Denver and signed an extension in 2011.

With his release by Denver, it’s the first time Bailey will be on the open market in his career.

According to Lindsay Jones of the USA Today, Bailey says he has no intention of retiring at this point and would even consider making a position switch if necessary to keep playing.

“I just want to see what people will want me to do. My vision is to still play corner, but I’m a little more open-minded about the season I had last year.” Bailey said. “I’m a corner at heart. If a situation made sense to play safety, then I would consider it.”

Charles Woodson successfully made the switch from cornerback to safety in recent seasons and it could be an avenue for Bailey to consider at this stage of his career. Bailey played just five games, making three starts, during the regular season while being limited due to a foot injury most of the year.

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 Post subject: Re: Atlanta Falcons Free Agency Open Thread
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 10:58 am 
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Atlanta Falcons Free Agency Needs List

By Dave Choate on Mar 5 2014, 3:00p 96
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons need to be urgent in free agency, but who are they going to chase?

Free agency kicks off on March 11th, and the Falcons can start talking to impending free agents on Saturday. The news and rumors are going to start flying at last.

While we gear up, I thought it might be a good idea to collect the team's biggest needs in one article. I've focused on the five most important and then listed five others I believe the Falcons will invest time, money and possibly draft picks in before the start of the 2014 season.

Feel free to quibble with my list and the order in which I've assembled it in the comments.

#1: Right Guard

In-house options: Harland Gunn, Peter Konz, Gabe Carimi

The Falcons were a bus crash from center to right tackle in 2013, but there's not a bigger need on the roster heading into 2014 than right guard.

The Falcons look likely to bring Joe Hawley back. Hawley is a decent starting center in the NFL and gives the Falcons a fallback if Konz falls flat on his face this summer, so while it's not ideal, center should not be a gaping vortex. At right tackle, the Falcons have Lamar Holmes, Gabe Carimi, Ryan Schraeder and potentially a draft pick to duke it out for the starting spot. Holmes was not an awful right tackle in his limited snaps and Schraeder showed real promise, so again, we're short of ideal but have options and an honest competition to look forward to even if the Falcons stand pat.

Guard is a different story. With Garrett Reynolds gone, the Falcons have Gunn, Konz and Carimi, none of whom are natural right guards. Socking a legitimate above average starter at the position would help to stabilize the line, make life easier for both center and right tackle and provide stability at a position that has been largely a revolving door since Harvey Dahl left.

The Falcons appear serious about rolling with Sam Baker at left tackle in addition to the position battles I've described at center and right tackle, so the one spot for an obvious upgrade is RG. Given the pass protection and run blocking woes, it's the priority position this offseason.

#2: Defensive Tackle

In-house options: Corey Peters, Travian Robertson, Adam Replogle, Cliff Matthews

The Falcons rolled with a three-man rotation in 2013, and while the tackles were a relative bright spot, there are major question marks heading into 2014.

The first question is whether Peters will even be ready for the start of the season, given the long recovery time associated with Achilles. If Jonathan Babineaux returns, he shouldn't play the same number of snaps he did in 2013, and it seems like a virtual lock that Peria Jerry will be finding a new deal elsewhere. That leaves Cliff Matthews, who is a part-time DT, and unproven commodities in Robertson and Replogle.

The Falcons sorely could use an impact defender in the middle, whether they draft a slashing type like Aaron Donald or sign a space-eater like Paul Solali. While it's possible to add a significant talent infusion at other positions, the Falcons can't roll with what they've got at defensive tackle, and it's critically important they draft or sign a starting-caliber player at defensive tackle.

#3: Free Safety

In-house options: Thomas DeCoud, Zeke Motta, Kemal Ishmael

The in-house options here consist of a man likely to be cut in the next week and two 2013 seventh-rounders who aren't known for their coverage chops. That doesn't sound like a recipe for success to me, and that's because it is not a recipe for success.

The Falcons don't necessarily need to add Jairus Byrd to get more consistent play out of the free safety position, but they desperately need to add a starter. Right guard and defensive tackle are more necessary, I'd argue, because of how thin those positions are and how thirsty these Falcons are for quality up front. Rolling into 2014 with Zeke Motta as the starting free safety would be grounds for mutiny.

Byrd is an expected target, but a short-term deal with a solid safety over 30 is a strong possibility if they can't get him. Atlanta needs a better safety net for Mike Nolan's schemes.

#4: Defensive End/Linebacker

In-house options: Osi, Umenyiora, Malliciah Goodman, Jonathan Massaquoi, Joplo Bartu, Sean Weatherspoon, Stansly Maponga

Pass rusher isn't technically a position, but that's what we're talking about here.

The Falcons lack a dominant pass rush, and they need to add one-to-two legitimate pass rushers to the front seven to combat that. It doesn't matter if you're talking about a true 4-3 pass rushing end like Jadeveon Clowney or Michael Johnson or a hybrid player like Khalil Mack, as long as they're capable of getting after the passer from wherever they're lining up.

The reason this need is down here is the pressing nature of the ones above it, as well as the potential for Mass, Bartu and Maponga to turn into at least decent options for the Falcons up front. I just wouldn't want to count on that. Expect the Falcons to target an outside linebacker or defensive end in free agency, and there's a strong possibility they use their first or second round pick on whichever position they don't fill before May.

#5: Tight End

In-house options: Levine Toilolo

You could make a convincing case that tackle or even running back deserves to go here, but the lack of depth at the position leads me to list it as number five. You'll probably move it up if you think Toilolo doesn't have a shot to start.

Going from a lock for the Hall of Fame to Levine Toilolo is daunting enough, but the Falcons have very little behind him that would inspire confidence. They need to add a veteran free agent to push Toilolo or a draft pick that can be a contributor right off the bat, or they're an injury away from catastrophe here.

#6: Left Tackle
#7: Right Tackle
#8: Running Back
#9: Wide Receiver
#10: Backup QB

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 Post subject: Re: Atlanta Falcons Free Agency Open Thread
PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 9:12 am 
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Read online we are going after Jon Asamoah. Haven't read much else. Been quiet it seems.


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 Post subject: Re: Atlanta Falcons Free Agency Open Thread
PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 12:47 pm 
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Add Mike Mitchel Panthers safety to names we've contacted this weekend.


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 Post subject: Re: Atlanta Falcons Free Agency Open Thread
PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 3:39 pm 
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The Falcons supposed interest in these middling safeties (Delmas, Mitchell, Bailey?) makes me think that they never intended to be seriously involved in the Jairus Byrd Sweepstakes.

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 Post subject: Re: Atlanta Falcons Free Agency Open Thread
PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 10:20 pm 
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Saw a tweet on another sight that we are in on Michael Johnson and could land him and Asamoah. Said we might be checking McFadden out too. Take it for what it's worth. Personally I like MJ and Asamoah but never been a DMAC fan. Would rather pick up Sproles to go with Steven Jackson.


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 Post subject: Re: Atlanta Falcons Free Agency Open Thread
PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 11:43 am 
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http://espn.go.com/blog/atlanta-falcons ... lcons-plan

Defensive scheme may shape Falcons' plan
March, 10, 2014

By Vaughn McClure | ESPN.com
RECOMMEND6TWEET5COMMENTS1EMAILPRINT
The potential for a significant change in strategy seems likely to determine how the Atlanta Falcons approach the official start of free agency on Tuesday.

There have been whispers among Falcons players about a switch to a 3-4-defensive scheme. Such a move could be a wise one, if the Falcons can put together quality personnel to effectively execute such a defense.

At season's end, head coach Mike Smith said he would evaluate every aspect of the team, including scheme.

Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan brought in some 3-4 principles after joining the Falcons, but his base has been a 4-3 look. When he came over from the Miami Dolphins in 2012, many wondered if the Falcons would immediately switch to a 3-4.

[+] EnlargePaul Soliai
AP Photo/Gary Wiepert
Nose tackle Paul Soliai has found success playing in Mike Nolan's 3-4 scheme before.
"It's my philosophy that you build your scheme around the players, not the other way around," Nolan said back in January of ‘12. "What has been built (in Atlanta), I think is a very solid foundation on a 4-3 defense."

That was then. This is now.

The Falcons are coming off an atrocious season in which they finished dead last in third-down defense, second-to-last in run defense, and tied for 27th in total defense. They allowed two unheralded running backs -- Tampa Bay's Bobby Rainey (163 rushing yards) and Arizona's Andre Ellington (154 yards) -- to bust loose for career-best rushing efforts. Stopping the run and eliminating big plays has to be the Falcons' defensive focus in ‘14.

Asking the current group of players to switch defenses on the fly would be a challenge but manageable. However, adding two or three guys with more 3-4 experience could make such a transition seamless.

If a change is indeed in the works, the Falcons would be smart to look into Miami's Paul Soliai, if they haven't made a call about the big nose tackle already. He was an integral part of the Dolphins' defense under Nolan in 2011, when Miami ranked third against the run, sixth in scoring, and seventh on third down.

At 6-foot-4 and 340-pounds, the 30-year-old Soliai would be the ideal guy to help plug the middle for a Falcons defense in dire need of run-stuffers. He takes on double teams with vengeance and has a knack for deflecting passes.

If not Soliai in the middle, maybe the Falcons could turn their attention to veteran nose tackle Ryan Pickett (6-2, 340) from Green Bay. Pickett, who turns 35 in October, has been disruptive in the Packers' 3-4 scheme. He could return to Green Bay, however.

NFL FREE AGENCY


Keep up with player moves and incisive analysis and viewpoints on ESPN.com.
• Bill Polian's Free-Agent Tracker
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• ESPN Insider: Rumor Central
In terms of the defensive ends to pair with the nose tackle, one player immediately makes sense: Tyson Jackson (6-4, 296). The former third-overall pick was drafted in Kansas City by Scott Pioli, currently the Falcons assistant general manager. Dallas' Jason Hatcher, who has experience in the 3-4, also has been linked to the Falcons this offseason. The Falcons also could look at recently re-signed Corey Peters as a defensive end in a 3-4 look, provided he recovers from an Achilles tear.

Any talk of a 3-4 might explain why the Falcons would have targeted outside linebacker Brian Orakpo as a pass-rusher had he not been franchised by Washington, why they're not in a rush to re-sign veteran defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux, and why defensive end Osi Umenyiora reportedly was asked to take a pay cut. Umenyiora essentially wouldn't have a role in such a scheme.

But a 3-4 would accommodate some of the young, athletic outside linebackers/pass-rushers coming out of college these days such as Buffalo's Khalil Mack and UCLA's Anthony Barr. Such a player could be paired with Kroy Biermann, who has experienced in a hybrid role, as the outside linebackers. Paul Worrilow and a healthy Sean Weatherspoon could comprise the inside tandem, if the Falcons decided to go in the 3-4 direction.

Of course, the Falcons also have some tweaking to do in the secondary, with free safety Thomas DeCoud likely to be released. Top free-agent safety Jairus Byrd from Buffalo is likely to be out of the Falcons' price range, but they still could look into Byrd, Indianapolis' Antoine Bethea, and Carolina's Mike Mitchell. The Falcons also could look at veteran defensive back Champ Bailey as a nickelback and mentor to young corners Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford.

The Falcons are $18,649,379 under the cap right now with $7 million more set to be added once retiring tight end Tony Gonzalez comes off the books.

Free agency, as well as the possible shift to the 3-4, will determine which way the Falcons lean in the draft

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 Post subject: Re: Atlanta Falcons Free Agency Open Thread
PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:26 pm 
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Lamarr Houston to Chicago for $35 Million over 5 Years. So good buy to that one Pudge.

At least you got Babs back, right?

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 Post subject: Re: Atlanta Falcons Free Agency Open Thread
PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:30 pm 
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Looks like KC DE Tyson Jackson will be a Falcon.

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 Post subject: Re: Atlanta Falcons Free Agency Open Thread
PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2014 2:25 pm 
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Just saw on Twitter that Steve Smith's agent said that his client won't be returning to the Panthers. I'd be down with Atlanta picking him up on a 1-2 year contract. Doubt that happens thought. It would be a nice stop gap until a more permanent solution could be added.

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 Post subject: Re: Atlanta Falcons Free Agency Open Thread
PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 5:14 pm 
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i can't believe Lamar Holmes play last year is considered " not awful" so he's good enough to get the job done?? They say Hawley is a decent center?? If Hawley was decent;
does that make our retired Todd McClure a super star? I suppose Sam Baker is our franchise
lineman, and its that thinking that screws us up so often.......

Who thinks these players are decent starters??

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 Post subject: Re: Atlanta Falcons Free Agency Open Thread
PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:23 am 
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If you can get production from your WR corps, the Falcons have proven they can win with a bad OL (see 2012). The Falcons have yet to prove they can win without a strong WR corps (see 2013).

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 Post subject: Re: Atlanta Falcons Free Agency Open Thread
PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:30 am 
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Well I think 2013 our line hurt everything!! Guys like Tyson Claybo and Todd McClure have been replaced with guys who might play ok, or might just suck again next year....

I'll agree that if our passing game works everything will be fine, but as you remember I thought our line hurt everything last year, but I think you disagreeded!! And I just accept your thinking
on that if I remember correctly!!


Everybody gets a draft and I've expected more from our early free agency. Our Players can be improved without a lot of giving up everything but we'll see.......That's why the season can be exciting!!

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 Post subject: Re: Atlanta Falcons Free Agency Open Thread
PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:41 pm 
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Yes, I disagreeded very much. :wink:

But as you may recall, IMO the OL was terrible, and I think the Falcons play-calling and game-planning played into that a little too much. TOo much reliance on Steven Jackson's mediocre running, too much reliance on short passing, and not enough explosiveness in the offense. Obviously there are a ton of factors that go into those things, but IMO if they had tried to take more shots, occasionally it would have paid off and last year wouldn't have been so abysmal offensively (esp. during that middle stretch when we were a horrible football team).

The positive is that Asamoah should definitely be an upgrade over Reynolds/Konz. I'm not sure Asamoah's presence now means our OL will be good because that will depend heavily on Sam Baker playing like he did in 2012 (which IMO is not a likelihood), Joe Hawley playing better, and whoever plays RT to not suck.

I don't expect the OL to be terrible, but I don't expect them to be good. Average to decent is about what I'm expecting. If we get Jake Matthews in the draft, then all is well.

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 Post subject: Re: Atlanta Falcons Free Agency Open Thread
PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2014 7:53 pm 
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Atlanta Falcons Free Agency Open Thread

10:53 pm March 5, 2014, by Dawson Devitt (D3)
A Few Transactions as Free Agency Nears

Snelling will be missed (AJC)

After a decent lull following the Super Bowl, the NFL is ready to burst to life once again. This is particularly true for fans of a team that had given up most hope around the midpoint of the season. The Falcons have been relatively quiet in free agency the last few years and it appears that will change this off-season. Whether it be due to the fact that the Falcons simply have tons of holes to fill or that jobs are likely on the line, it seems as though sitting back and waiting might not cut it this free agency period. As the free agency bonanza dawns, here’s a few items and links from other writers and sites to help spur some conversations…..


" We have tons of holes to fill" With that thought in mind I liked our draft, but we will have players who were ok last year that will suck this year.....

I want to be able to have a positive outlook for the Falcons but how can you when you have " tons of holes to fill" and we've possibly addressed 4-5 of them, with no sure improvement except in perhaps two; how can I hope for a playoff team?? I can't!!

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 Post subject: Re: Atlanta Falcons Free Agency Open Thread
PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 4:51 pm 
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Well Pudge,
We got our man, everyone else in their family can play, I just hope Jake can have a good rookie season!!

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