Atlanta started off the free agent period strongly by shoring up both the offensive and defensive lines. The addition of Tyson Jackson almost certainly signals the move to a hybrid 3-4/4-3 defense, and Jon Asamoah adds toughness to what was last years 2nd worst offensive line. Despite these steps in the right direction, it’s hard to call our overall free-agent pick-ups a success. This is not because our pick-ups are bad, far from it, but the Falcons are close to missing out on acquiring a solid upgrade to Thomas DeCoud, who was recently released from the organization. Also, Atlanta missed out on Delmas, Mays, Ward and Byrd, who angered the entirety of the Falcons’ fan-base by signing with the Saints. Their are few options left on the board, Chris Clemons is most certainly the most appealing option. If Dimitroff and Pioli can’t pull him into the organization then I fear that Atlanta’s safety play will be much worse than last year. Zeke Motta and Kemal Ishmael simply aren’t starters at this point in their career.
There are two intriguing options in my opinion, both of which involve bringing in a veteran corner and moving them to the Free Safety position. One semi-popular opinion, is bringing former Bronco and future Hall-of-Famer Champ Bailey back to his home state. There is no doubt that Bailey has lost a step, but bringing him into the Falcons organization provides two benefits. Firstly, and most obviously, we would (somewhat) adequately fill a need. Bailey’s intelligence and experience is almost unrivaled, and putting him a position where he could act as field general would seem like a natural fit. Secondly, and perhaps where his true value lies, is our young, budding cornerbacks would certainly benefit from a season or two learning from one of the all-time greats. Bailey’s value as a mentor for Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant could result in the rise one of the great young cornerback tandems in the NFL. If we don’t get Clemons, Bailey seems like the best bet. Even if the safety experiment doesn’t work out, adding another team leader and defensive mentor never hurt an organization, and could lead to long-term success in the future.
The second option is certainly not as ideal as bringing in Clemons or maybe even Bailey. But bringing in DeCoud for a second chance at a cheaper price. He was awful last year, no doubt. His inability to tackle more than likely cost us at least a game. But at the same time, we are only a season removed from a season where he was voted to the pro-bowl and recording a respectable 6 picks. We know what were getting with DeCoud, and that both has it’s advantages and disadvantages. But putting Tyson Jackson and Paul Soliai on the line to stuff the run and generate pressure up front should put him in a position to play to his ball-hawking potential.
The safety position needs to be addressed in free-agency. We won’t be able to pick up Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix in the draft, unless we trade back, which I don’t believe should be an option. Obviously in a perfect world, we would be currently watching a press-conference where Dimitroff, Blank and Smitty were introducing Jairus Byrd as the newest Falcon. However, that ship has sailed, and with that opens the door to a new member of the secondary.