It was not too long ago that the Atlanta front office decided to shock the NFL world by trading up for Julio Jones. The decision is one that still haunts many fans, as a total of five draft selections were given up for the gifted Alabama receiver. Whether or not it was the right move was a hot topic on most Atlanta talk radio stations throughout the season and their beloved Falcons suffered blow after blow to complete a miserable (4-12) season. Many believe that those draft picks hindered player development because Atlanta was such a young team, they needed all the depth they could get. However, if any player was worth making a big move for it was Julio Jones. Sure, he suffered a season ending injury, but I have not heard anyone questioning his ability to become one of the top wideouts in the NFL once returning. In a few hours Free Agency officially begins, and with that comes the media blitzkrieg that will dominate news cycles for the remainder of the week.
Here is what we know:
Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli will be at the helm of a make or break off-season. There is no question that this is the most important off-season the front office has faced since 2008. The Falcons have $26 million reasons to make franchise changing signings. Atlanta will be targeting offensive linemen first, followed by adding depth in needed areas. New offensive line coach Mike Tice will be tempted to push for a new starting guard and tackle. Atlanta has the cap space to make a lot of noise this week, and it is time the Falcons front office puts to bed the questions surrounding the offensive line. Jon Asamoah is a name making a lot of noise within certain circles regarding Free Agency. I believe the former Chief will be one of the new Falcons when all is said and done this week. He is a terrific pass blocker and plays with a lot of aggression, which should rub off on the other linemen.
Atlanta needs to sign a starting caliber free safety. Can Atlanta target and bring in the big fish aka Jairus Byrd? He is seeking around $9 million a season, which would be a heavy price tag. Thomas DeCoud will no longer be in the secondary, Atlanta needs to replace him with a more versatile safety. Could Atlanta target one of the defensive pass specialists? Michael Johnson could be the biggest fish in the Free Agent pond, I am not as high on him as others, but his athleticism would be worth the gamble. Michael Bennett came off the market today after resigning with the Seahawks, Johnson is not expected to resign with the Bengals.
There were rumors this week of a possible homecoming for All-Pro corner Champ Bailey. If he came to Atlanta, it would be to play inside as the nickel. I could see Atlanta making this move as long as the price is right.
Make sure you check out cover32’s compressive free agent list HERE