Falcons Free Agents to Re-sign

Give Your List of Must-Keeps

Not Even a Debate on Lofton (AP)

As the Atlanta Falcons approach the 2012 off-season, one of the most interesting points to follow is how much the Birds roster, which has been extremely stable the last four year, will change. Those very few changes made a lot of sense when the Falcons were believed to be “right on the cusp of greatness.” But going 0-3 in the playoffs, including 2 straight embarrassing blowouts, has prompted the belief that its time for a minor overhaul of the roster.

The Falcons have a large amount of their own players set to become unrestricted free agents, 17 to be exact, which includes a large portion of key players from Dimitroff’s first draft. In the season review press conference, the Birds GM talked about their being “no sacred cows, tough decisions, & 8 or 9 guys which to build around.” In addition to having a limited amount of cap space, Dimitroff also has no 1st round or 4th round pick due to the Julio Jones trade. Your task today: which 8-9 free agents should they re-sign?

**Note: A more detailed analysis on each free agent will follow in coming weeks leading up to free agency.***

Potential Free Agents

Offense

C Todd McClure, QB Chris Redman, WR Eric Weems, WR Harry Douglas, TE Michael Palmer (exclusive rights), RB Jason Snelling, RB Antone Smith (Exclusive Rights), TE Reggie Kelly, OL Kirk Chambers, C Brett Romberg and LS Joe Zelenka.

Defense

LB Curtis Lofton, DE John Abraham, CB Brent Grimes, S Thomas DeCoud, DE Kroy Biermann, CB Kelvin Hayden, S James Sanders, DT Vance Walker (Restricted), and LB Mike Peterson.

(In Order of Importance)

1) Curtis Lofton

This one’s the biggest no-brainer of them all. If Matt Ryan is the leader and captain of the offense, Curtis Lofton means the same amount to the defense. Lofton was selected in the 2nd round of Dimitroff’s first draft and has emerged as the heart and soul of the defense. Lofton has started every single game except one since his rookie year and has experienced a major overhaul at the linebacker position.

He is the only player to remain since 2008. Known initially as a throwback middle linebacker who would track down and tackle everything in his path, Lofton has emerged as a playmaker at middle linebacker where he has improved in pass coverage and shown an excellent ability at getting to the quarterback.

Lofton recorded a career high 147 combined tackles this year (492 in his short and esteemed career) and his 7 passes defensed is further evidence of his improved play in coverage. One of the Falcons greatest strengths is their linebacker corps including Lofton, Sean Weatherspoon, and Stephen Nicholas, not to mention impressive rookie Akeem Dent and Spencer Adkins, who looked good in limited playing time. Put simply, Lofton is one of the most important players on this Falcons squad and is only 25 years old. Anything less than making Lofton a Falcon for life and rewarding him for his work ethic, toughness, and leadership, is unfathomable.

2) Harry Douglas

Can't Let HD Get Away (AJC)

Some think that Douglas will try the open market and attempt to become a #2 wide receiver in the NFL. He certainly has the ability to do so, but the idea of him going to receiver-starved Jacksonville to play for the man, Mike Mularkey, who did such a poor job integrating him into the offensive gameplan, is hard to imagine. Douglas may not have blown up the way many thought he would after his impressive rookie year, but that has nothing to do with him or his ability.

If used correctly, Douglas can be one of the best and most dangerous receivers in the NFL. He recorded the best hands in the 2011 season of all Falcons receivers, even though he didn’t get near the amount of looks and offensive inclusion he should have.

It will be tough for Dimitroff to hold onto him if he has his heart set on being a number 2 receiver, but he has to do whatever it takes to give another coordinator a shot at having Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Harry Douglas at his disposal in the passing game. With Douglas, the Falcons have arguably one of the best receiving corps, at least in terms of potential, in the National Football League. Dimitroff should overpay if he must. For comparison, Green Bay found a way to hold onto James Jones last off-season and he’s considered their #4 receiver.

3) Jason Snelling

This is mainly contingent on the belief the Falcons will part ways with Michael Turner. The Falcons have had the luxury of Jason Snelling and his versatility the last several years, without ever truly tapping his deep potential. Snelling has done it all for the Falcons including being a feature back when needed (remember him stepping in for Turner in 2009), a 3rd down back, an excellent receiving back, and even a fullback. Snelling tested the market and didn’t find much last off-season.

Along with Douglas in the past and Jacquizz Rodgers this year, Snelling seems to have been a victim of underutilization playing for Mike Mularkey. His numbers aren’t eye-popping and evidently no teams were willing to take him on as their feature back, but Snelling deserves his shot in Atlanta after paying his dues and offering more potential, versatility, and youth in the run game. He just turned 28 in December, but has limited wear and tear due to his under use while in Atlanta.

Many fans believe that it’s time to part ways with Michael Turner. Snelling has helped to build that argument because he’s seemed to run harder and surely offers more in the passing game than Turner does. If the Falcons do decide to let Turner go, than Snelling is a must re-sign. Maybe he’s not a feature back, but he wouldn’t have to be with the emergence of Jacquizz Rodgers. Snelling would also be an player to help in the transition from Turner to Rodgers and any new running back they would draft. Sure, it would be a risk, but Snelling has proven he can perform well in the backfield when asked to. If anyone questions his toughness and commitment, he reportedly continued to play in the playoff game even after he broke his jaw during the game.

4) John Abraham

DeCoud Should Get Another Shot (AJC)

Outside of Brent Grimes, Abraham is the trickiest one to figure out. He’s been the sole provider of sacks and pressure for the last 5 years and he’s done a darn good job of it with little to no help. After his masterful year in 2010 with 16.5 sacks, Abraham seemed to drop off some in 2011. As with the other players, that likely was the result of a predictable and vanilla defensive scheme asking too much of Abraham with no big defensive tackles to take away double-teams. Like Lofton, it’s kind of a no-brainer on whether the front office and fans alike want him back, but the issue of his age (turning 34 in May) and how big of a contract he desires cloud the prospects of him returning.

Like most free-agents-to-be, the player’s asking price will play a big part in whether they return to Atlanta or move on somewhere else. That is especially true of Abraham. If he would accept a 2-3 year deal worth around 7 million per year to retire a Falcon, while being used sparingly under Coach Smith as he has the last 4 years, there’s a good chance he’ll be back.

However, if he is looking to max out at all costs for his last contract of his career, than he may be gone. It’s hard to believe the market would set a high demand for an aging defensive end, but all it takes is one team. Some thought the Mike Nolan hire meant the end for Abraham in Atlanta with the potential move to a 3-4, but after Nolan stated his desire to stay in the 4-3, Abraham’s chances spiked significantly. The Falcons surely want him back, but it’s hard to believe they’ll overpay with so many other areas needing help.

5) Thomas DeCoud

Many or even most may disagree with this selection, but bringing back DeCoud makes sense on several levels. Like several other defensive players who’ve gotten a bad rep (Robinson, Owens, Edwards, etc), DeCoud may very well be the victim of a soft and predictable scheme that has the defensive backs in a hole even before the ball was snapped. DeCoud has had his struggles in coverage for sure, but asking your DB’s to cover talented receivers for an eternity with little pressure after already being backed off them 10, 15, and 20 yards is a little bit ridiculous. Perhaps DeCoud is more to blame than simply being a victim of a bad scheme, but he showed a great deal of talent in his first year as a starter.

That talent led many to think that DeCoud was on the verge of a Pro Bowl worthy year. After his breakout in 2009, DeCoud has been middling around and has taken several steps back. During his time as a starter, he’s seen major changes at strong safety and at cornerback, coupled with not using his excellent blitzing ability as a part of his game. DeCoud’s demand shouldn’t be very high so the Falcons should be able to re-sign him for a reasonable deal while also giving him a chance under a proven defensive coordinator.

Finally, the simple fact remains that with limited draft picks and space under the salary cap, there’s only so much you can fix in one off-season. And while DeCoud’s play has left a lot to be desired at times, the pairing with William Moore at safety is not nearly on the level of importance as say the offensive line is. Bringing back DeCoud would allow them a chance to see if he is in fact a main cog to build around, while also drafting a safety to groom under him. He also led the team in interceptions with 4 and was tied for 12th in the NFL.

6) Eric Weems

Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham, left, leaps up to celebrate his interception of Miami Dolphins Chad Henne with defensive end Chauncey Davis, right, during 1st quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, August 12, 2011.

Will Price Be Right for Abraham? (AJC)

Weems earned $1million dollars and was really only used as a kickoff and return man. He was technically slotted as the Falcons #4 receiver, but if Harry Douglas had a hard time getting involved in Mike Mularkey’s offense, than Weems getting involved bordered on fantasy. Weems had an excellent season in 2010 and made the Pro Bowl as a specialist (not as a returner) and has proven to be a superb special teams player.

He had some rough outings this year when not fair catching correctly or deciding to fair catch when he had room to run, but he’s shown to have great speed and athleticism. As with all involved, it depends on what Weems is looking for, but any significant monetary commitment should also have the promise of getting him involved in the passing game with his quickness and speed. Weems would continue his run as kick and punt returner, while also solidifying the Falcons passing attack, receivers 1 through 4.

7) James Sanders

Assuming the price would be reasonable, Sanders would be an excellent re-sign for depth and experience for the Falcons defensive backfield. With his ability to play both positions and blitz in an aggressive system, Sanders seems a good fit for Mike Nolan’s defense. Sanders would be the ultimate protection for backing up Thomas DeCoud while also being available to fill-in for the oft-injured William Moore if needed.

Bringing back both DeCoud and Sanders may not seem to make much sense, but Sanders hasn’t been a full-time starter since 2008, so his price couldn’t be too high. Having Sanders, DeCoud, and Moore would solidify a backfield mixed with youth, potential, and veteran leadership, while also allowing the Falcons to draft a 4th safety to groom for the future. Sanders also just turned 28 last November.

Toss-Ups

Kelvin Hayden

Hayden coming back is almost completely dependent on their decision to either re-sign Brent Grimes or let him walk in free agency. Hayden played very well in his limited time in Atlanta and even came away with two interceptions. Of course Hayden’s big problem has been his major trouble with staying healthy. He only appeared in 8 games in 2011 and didn’t see the field again after the Tennessee game on November 20th.

The Falcons are financially committed to DUnta Robinson and look to build around Dominique Franks and surprising rookie Darrin Walls. Chris Owens has earned himself a spot on the roster as well, even if he doesn’t play the nickel role. If they bring Grimes back (which seems pretty unlikely at this point), than Hayden definitely will be allowed to move on. But if they let Grimes go, Hayden would be a good re-sign for insurance purpose. Hayden would turn 29 before the season started and time is running out on him.

Since the Falcons were one of the only teams to take a chance on him, he may try and reprove himself here in Atlanta in a new defense with no clear pecking order at cornerback. His deal could be mainly contingent on a roster signing bonus, where he would have to prove he’s capable of kicking the injury bug and make the 53 man roster.

Kroy Biermann

This one’s a really tough call as well and is likely dependent on the return of John Abraham. Biermann has been the consummate player and teammate since his time in Atlanta. He improved himself out of sheer work ethic and determination to go from a potential 3-4 outside linebacker at 240 lbs. to a 4-3 defensive end at 260+ lbs.

He burst on the scene as a rookie on special teams and even collared 2 sacks with limited snaps. He improved his prospects even more in 2009 with 5 sacks and led many fans to believe he was on the verge of something special. 2010 saw him start 14 games at defensive end, but wind up with 3 sacks. He garnered 2.5 sacks this year, but was replaced by Ray Edwards in the lineup and saw many of his snaps be taken away by Lawrence Sidbury.

He is extremely athletic for a big man, where he’s intercepted passes in consecutive years and taken them for a touchdown each time. Much like Abraham and others, it will depend on what Biermann is looking for in a deal. He doesn’t really project as a 4-3 starting defensive end, but could be an excellent asset as a potential 3-4 outside linebacker, even though it’s been stated they are staying a 4-3. He’s the ultimate teammate who helps out on special teams and even kicked off in a pinch, but if the Falcons bring back Abraham, it’s likely they would let Biermann go with Edwards, Sidbury, and even Cliff Matthews higher on the priority list.

**Didn’t include exclusive rights free agents since they are only allowed to negotiate with the Falcons.**

Next blog post will include analysis of players they will/should let walk and why

Your Turn

-Choose the 8 or 9 free agents the Falcons must re-sign

-Give your list of who they SHOULD re-sign

-Also give your list of who you think they WILL re-sign, if its different

-What kind of contracts should they offer

616 comments Add your comment

D3

January 23rd, 2012
11:10 pm

Please forgive any errors for I can barely keep my eyes open.

Make sure to keep in mind that the Falcons aren’t going to re-sign all of their free agents and will have to make some tough choices.

In terms of Brent Grimes (b/c I know it will come up), I think we should re-sign him, but I don’t think we will. He’s going to max out and who can blame him. But the Falcons are financially tied to DRob, like it or not, and simply saying cut him and sign Grimes makes no financial sense, because the Birds would lose their butt just cutting DRob and any of that money would be lost and couldn’t be used on Grimes anyway.

The list is a mix of who they should and who they will re-sign.

Alright, definitely time to go. See you tomorrow……………

Cheers!!!!!!!!

Kurtis

January 23rd, 2012
11:13 pm

D3, you’re great man. But, I do have to disagree with you on DeCoud.

Keep up the good work dude!!

Kurtis

January 23rd, 2012
11:18 pm

Also, I’m a Grimes fan, and I’d hate to see him go. You’re right about being tied to DRob though. I just can’t make myself believe that he forgot how to cover someone once he put the Atlanta jersy on. Hopefully Nolan knows what he has and will institute more bump, man coverage and give Robinson the chance to regain his form from his Houston days.

Kurtis

January 23rd, 2012
11:19 pm

*jersey*…sorry, it’s getting late….yawn.

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screg

January 23rd, 2012
11:35 pm

Should Re-sign: Lofton, Aberham, Douglas, Snelling, Grimes, Biermann, DeCoud, Sanders, Weems, Redman

They are stupid and will only resign: Lofton, Sanders, DeCoud, Weems, Redman

Remember when they let Laurant Robinson go for a 7th round pick? Idiots. Apparently a starting receiver “wasnt in our future plans.”

We clearly need Grimes. He’s the only bright spot in our secondary. Moore is good when he plays. But we need Sanders because Moore is injury prone.

Should have kept Norwood as well as Dahl. Dahl leaves and our O-Line goes to trash.

falCANS

January 24th, 2012
12:15 am

WOOOOW!!! How is BRENT GRIMES not second on this list sfter CURTIS LOFTON????
Has nobody noticed he ia a borderline shut down corner!!! ??? Hasselbeck (titans) “when watching film the person who really jumps out at you is BRENT GRIMES”
DO YALL NOT REMEMBER THE COMPLETE SHUTDOWN OF MEGATRON ON BRENTS SIDE OF THE FIELD???

ONLY 3 players are must-sign….. in order of importance #1 Curtis Lofton, #2 Brent Grimes, #3 John Abraham!!! On the cusp is HARRY DOUGLAS & Decoud

falCANS

January 24th, 2012
12:18 am

lol I commented too soon glad to see Grimes is appreciated

Wabe

January 24th, 2012
12:26 am

Grimes is a great corner…

I’d love to see him back. But, as cliche as it may sound, this is a business. And, I’d rather see the Falcons invest more into their defensive front 7 than tie up all that money on the back end. It’ll probably be wiser to let Grimes walk and use that money elsewhere. There are plenty of issues that need to be addressed, and I won’t really go into that much because I don’t wanna sound repetitive. Most folks already know where the deficiencies are as it is, so, no use in elaborating on that.

But, in my opinion, Lofton’s the only one of this group whose a must-sign. Offensively, I think it’s important to hold onto Douglas. He’s shown himself, particularly this season, as someone who can make things happen when targeted. Unfortunately for him, his role wasn’t maximized within this offense. When Julio went down, we saw his targets increase, and he didn’t disappoint. I think with Roddy climbing up there in age, it’d make sense to lock him up.

Wabe

January 24th, 2012
12:28 am

Abraham isn’t a must-sign. He’s been great over the years, but the dude’s gradually fallin’ off. No need to tie up big bucks with the guy. If you can lock him up to a good deal, nothing long-term (maybe a 2 year deal), fine. If not, just let the dude walk.

Great Falconi

January 24th, 2012
12:29 am

I’d be more comfortable with DeCoud if he did a better job with his tackling angles. A safety kinda needs to be able to do that well. DeCoud didn’t do it in 2011.

Great Falconi

January 24th, 2012
12:30 am

I’d bring Lofton and Douglas back. Not sure about Sanders. Abe would be fine at the right price. Snelling didn’t do much to bolster his hopes for a good contract, so if we don’t draft a younger big back, keeping him will make sense.

tjhook

January 24th, 2012
1:34 am

I am going to miss watching Brent Grimes making plays for the team. The only way we can keep/re-sign him is if we trade Micheal Turner away for a 2nd or 3rd round pick.

Ed

January 24th, 2012
1:36 am

Appreciate your work as always as we know you’re burning the candle at both ends. I agree with you from what I have heard about the Falcons not keeping Grimes but can’t help but feeling it is a huge mistake. I know it’s a business but how can you develop someone and just as he becomes a premier player let him go. If you truly want to win as an owner you have to bite the bullet sometimes and Arthur needs to do it in Grimes’ case. It’s sad to know that we have to keep and start a player (Dunta) merely because we’ve paid him a lot of money. More and more the questions arise about how well TD has managed the Falcons as so many of his moves are now very questionable.

Opie

January 24th, 2012
2:23 am

D3 Grimes, Sanders, and Biermann are keepers. Everyone else are marginal players. Abraham is average and old. He is a rotation player, saying that he is ATL best DE is not a compliment at this point in his career. Curtis Lofton is an overrated stat machine. Evvery ML in the playoffs including 16 year vet Ray Lewis is superior to Lofton. D3, the tape clearly shows that lofton is not athetic enough to run with the average to elite TEs.

I believe bloggers on your post blasted Keith Brookins for the very same thing. let’s not be hypocrits!! Many bloggers stated that Keith Brooking piled up meaningless tackles after initial contact, I see the exact same results in Lofton. Quite frankly Keith Brookings is better!! The best LB on the roster is Sean Weatherspoon, there is no second place. Michael Boley is playing in the Superbowl in two weeks because he wouldn’t kiss Mike Smith’s A__. Navarro Bowman was taken off ATL draftboard with a black dot, character BS. Laurent Robinson is shining in Dallas. Hell Chris Houston looks like an Pro Bowl CB once he was traded away from Dumb A__ Mike Smith and his Vanilla Scheme Defense the Van Gorder is taking the wrap for.

Harry Douglas does not have the burst and separation speed to be an effective slot man. He was shut down at the line of scrimmage in many Falcon games I attended in the dome the last 4 years. A receiver is worthless if they can’t handle initial jam contact!!

trademark

January 24th, 2012
4:42 am

For anyone paying attention, Grimes (and his Wife) are playing the “pay me” angle, to the point of being a prima-donna. Since the Falcons are so keen on personalities and not having locker room conflict, he’s most likely gone, barring a major change in attitude and a couple of closed door meetings. Yeah, I’d like to see him stay. He’s got the no-quit guts that these Falcons seem to be missing as a whole. Concerns are: how serious was that knee injury, and can he play the (hopefully!) more aggressive bump/man coverage that’s coming in next season.

My list of must-haves and why:
Lofton, no-brainer
Abraham, still brings it most of the time
Snelling, can catch screens, and we’re going to see a lot of screens. A LOT of screens….
Douglas: Almost single handedly led the comeback against the Saints in the Dome…still wondering why he wasn’t targeted on those goal-line plays…hmmmpf…aw well, have fun in Florida Mularkey….
Sanders, Hayden: Both good and go-get ‘em players, I wouldn’t mind keeping them around.

Maybes:
Biermann, fell off production wise (scheme problems?) Not sure about him, can dominate at times, but not last year.
Peterson: Good, veteran linebacker..I think our LBs are some of the best in the game, I don’t want to see any of them go.

C ya later:

DeCoup: too burn-prone, gave up lots of big plays in space on missed assignments. I don’t know, D3, I mean, I see your point, he CAN make big plays, but he reminds me too much of some past DBs we’ve had that are Jekyll and Hyde
McClure/Redman/Weems/Kelly: Veteran players that don’t contribute as much as we need anymore. We need more ooompf. And Redman, while a stable back-up, is playing behind a QB who took a LOT of hits last year and kept getting up. Sorry, not needed (hopefully!)
Chambers/Romberg/Kelly/Zolenka: Too pricey and not super-important in keeping the team competitive.

COACHES:

I’m not done yet…..

Fire the DB coach..OK, I see it….but…someone please explain to me why Robiskie and Ray Hamilton still have jobs? I mean BESIDES being all cuddly with Mike Smith…. Our receivers dropped everything thrown at them, our primary led the league in dropped passes…Robiskie somehow wasn’t able to correct the MOST IMPORTANT COMPONENT OF HIS JOB during the season and it buried us so many times I shudder to think about it. Yet, he is still here….And Henderson..hmmm…so, the MOST IMPORTANT COMPONENT OF HIS JOB is to get the D-Line to NOT get driven backwards and to pressure the QB….anyone? anyone? C’MON MAN.

The Real Falcon

January 24th, 2012
6:57 am

I love Snelling but he is not a feature back. I love the way he runs with violence though.

honest_abe

January 24th, 2012
7:31 am

realistically, how much money can you tie up for people who’s main objective is to catch the ball? i like harry douglas but you already traded the house for a potential #1 receiver. you already have a receiver who you’ve invested 8 mil in. you have an aging tight end who’s main purpose is also to catch balls you’ve given him 7 mil.

if you want to know a sure recipe for failure just tie up most of your money in wide receivers. it’s like having a mansion on top of a landfill. just lovely.

Chop Buster

January 24th, 2012
7:49 am

Keep -
Lofton good run stopper but a liability in coverage
HD very underutilized in MM’s offense
Weems needs to be challenged for PR/KR duties and needs more time in slot
J Sanders did well despite coming to the team late
Kroy could excel as a 3-4 LB and let him move around and rush from standup

On the fence
Snelling isn’t too different from Turner. We need a Emmitt Smith type that has speed, chg of direction and can run with power.
Decoud played well one year and disappeared. Maybe Nolan can ressurect him. I think he has talent but looked lost and whiffed on plays.
Hayden played well when on the field. He just seems too injury prone

Really

January 24th, 2012
7:58 am

This article must be a joke. Weems is a terrible decision maker when it comes to returning kicks. We can have Franks do the same thing and save the money. Decoud is the worst safety we’ve had since Bryan Scott. He couldn’t cover a sneeze. No way we bring him back.

We only need to bring back Lofton, HD, and Kroy. Let everybody else walk. Rumor is Grimes didn’t play in the playoff game because he didn’t want to get injured before his pending free agency.

Chop Buster

January 24th, 2012
8:01 am

Reduce Abe pay and sign to one year to give other DEs time to develop–unless we can get a DE monster in FA then Abe goes.

JJ

January 24th, 2012
8:08 am

Lofton
Snelling
HD
Biermann
Decoud
Sanders
Hayden
V. Walker
Peterson

SeminoleWarrior

January 24th, 2012
8:30 am

Quick hit…working on the list. Shall return.

FYI…Robeskie is a fine WR coach. Under his direction, RW84 has a streak of Pro Bowl appearances and is now recognized league wide as one of the premier players at the position. He also, with no mini camps and OTAs to work with, took a talented rookie, JJ11, and nearly made him a 1000 yard WR in his first year. The drops were not on Coach….they were based on a lack of focus on the part of the WRs. I would argue that Coach Rob is one of the BRIGHT spots on the staff.

The Sugar Bear has taken the likes of Vance Walker and Cory Peters and made legit DTs out of them. The reason our DL gets pushed around is that the scheme is as pathetic as it can be. With all the DL stunts and drop backs on the end, it is easy to see favorable matchups at times against the DL. Peters is a budding star; Babs has been a constant. DE is a week to week situation but hopefully Nolan’s hire changes that. Again, I fault the scheme more than I fault the position in this case.

honest_abe

January 24th, 2012
8:53 am

i agree w/ sw. robiskie and hamilton are damn good coaches. boudreau was also a heckuva position coach. the only place i disagree w/ sw is from a talent standpoint. i think hamilton and boudreau were limited because of the talent level. you can’t look at the falcons d-line and say they have a bunch of studs. the same can be said for the o-line. peters and walker are serviceable. just like all the other big fellas on this team. not a single one is close to a transcendant talent. i love babs but when he’s your best interior lineman at 6′2 300lb soaking wet. you begin to see why they get pushed around like they do.

shesoleo

January 24th, 2012
9:18 am

Lofton- a no brainer, Abe- best pass rusher we have, HD- needs to be used more, Sanders- showed promise, Weems- if he can find his way out of the end zone, Snelling- just love to see him drag defenders up the field with power, Kroy- needs more playing time.

tom

January 24th, 2012
9:25 am

Grimes needs to go. Energetic and too small. Teams that target him are always successful. No matter how high he jumps, he cannot get high enough on most tight ends and wide receivers. Get him out of here.

Bob

January 24th, 2012
9:31 am

Re-sign – Lofton, Douglas, Snelling, Sander, Hayden (get him for cheap and hopefully he can stay healthy), Abraham (2 yrs), and see what the price tag is for Grimes

Dont re-sign – Weems, DeCoud
Draft – 2nd round – a free saftey that can cover; 3rd round – a pass catching TE that can play right away and learn from Tony G.;

John Waynesworld

January 24th, 2012
9:54 am

Great topic, D3, one that we have all been grinding and frustrated about.

Besides Grimes, which is so obvious since he is the ONLY playmaker in the secondary besides Moore when healthy, and possibly Abe (with a friendly contract), everybody else is suspect. I am not one of those who think Lofton is the be all and end all of middle linebackers. In fact, with another year under his belt, I think Akeem Dent or Even Bear Woods could be just as serviceable as Lofton in the middle of our defense and it would save us extra money to spend on positions of REAL need, like defensive linemen and Safety or even OLB. As far as the secondary, I have heard some say that maybe Nolan will move Dunta to Safety, or others say to release him outright; however I believe Nolan will make Dunta better at his position with a change of scheme. Realistically because of his insane contract, there is no other choice, and Robinson is a decent CB in the NFL, not great, not even very good, but decent. The same cannot be said for ANY other CB on our roster except of course Grimes. As far as the others on the defensive list, Keep Biermann if only for his effort, keep Sanders and Walker and ditch the rest, especially DeCoud.

On offense, is HD really all that? There were a slew of WRs in the past two drafts alone that had better seasons this year than Harry did and now, along with all his previous injury time, he gets a new contract? He is not even on the field for more than 15 snaps and he gets less than a handful of looks. As far as the rest, keep all the Offensive linemen, Zelenka the long snapper for sure, Snelling is a definite keeper, let TE Palmer stay and dump Kelly, lose WR Weems & RB Smith, and finally it is time to say good bye to Redman. TD needs to find a raw QB with a big arm, or fleet of foot, to be a real change of pace from the immobile and meh-armed Matty Icicle flower pot. Heck right now I would gladly take D.J. Shockley as a back up just for the excitement value rather than having a backup QB who is just as (or less) unspectacular as the starter.

Arx Ferrum

January 24th, 2012
10:05 am

Curious how one player in particular didn’t make the list.

Guess it just goes to prove that old saying about opinions being like a particular bodily orifice… we all have at least one.

SirReal

January 24th, 2012
10:06 am

GRIMES- Like him but he feels like he’s too good for us now. He’s earned his shot at the big $ so I just say thanks and enjoy your years.
ABE- I like him and I think we should only bring him back at a decent price. I know this is his last contract so he may wanna make it count. Im honestly ok with moving on at this oint though. We need to see if other guys can get it done.
LOFTON- He’s more than earned his payday. Keep him…maybe your first priority Dimitroff!!!
DOUGLAS- This guy could be the NFC’s Wes Welker if used correctly. If another team doesnt sign him, I think re-signing is a MUST or the Falcons will regret it. Imagine him on the other side of Steve Smith….
DECOUD-Honestly Im not a big fan of a guy who celebrates after making a tackle when we’re down by 20 points. Doesnt have his head in the game all the time it seems but we may be stuck with him.
SNELLING- I like the way he runs and was surprised that he didnt get any love on the open market last year. I actually like the Snelling-Quizz tandem. I also like Antone Smith. If Turner goes, this is a definite re-sign. Just too versatile.
SANDERS- I say re-sign for depth….also let him challenge BOTH safeties in camp for their spot. At 28, he still has a lot of tread left and played pretty solid.
WEEMS- Great Special teamer….re-sign if not asking too much. If so, let him walk and get paid elsewhere.
BIERMANN- I like him but not enough to re-sign. Guess it’ll be real housewives of__________ in a few months.

I also like Vance Walker. Most of the other guys can walk as they dont really provide much quality depth.

Die Hard Falcon

January 24th, 2012
10:07 am

I would say that we should definitely keep Lofton, HD, and if we trade Turner, then we should have cap room for Grimes as long as he doesn’t try to hold us over the coals, if he does let him go, we’ll get a 3rd rounder for sure next year as a compensatory pick if he jets. I think that someone said the owner needs to ante up to keep Grimes, but it’s not a lack of willingness on his part, it’s a matter of the salary cap, and we’re not keeping DRob b/c we’ve paid him so much, it’s b/c the cap hit we’d still have against us w/o a player there, if they were smart, they’d have frontloaded his contract more, so we could’ve cut him after a couple years if it didn’t work, but hindsight is 20/20 and despite everyone who jeers at our GM, I think league-wide Dunta was considered the top FA CB that year, I believe as some stated, it’s the scheme that doesn’t work w/ him. I think if the cap goes up like it should to about $125 mil, we have a decent amount of space, especially if we also clear the other 26 mil that I think DLED said was expendable, that’d be a ton of cap space.

1 name to look for in FA, is Jonathan Stewart, I know he’s still under contract, but the Panthers are having serious cap problems and just gave a big contract to Deangelo Williams, I don’t think they’ll keep both, maybe they’ll cut it somewhere else, but I wouldn’t be surprised and since he’s been sharing carries, lots of tread left, I wouldn’t mind signing him if we get rid of Turner, I think we could get him at a comparable # to Turner’s salary for this year. Of course I’m no GM and don’t have all the data, but I sure would like to see him come our way, but the biggest coup we could make in FA would be Carl Nicks, the Aints are going to have trouble w/ the cap and they need to sign Brees, Nicks, Colston, Meachem. Nicks would be the only one that I could see us signing if he were to test the market. We’ll see, Go Falcons!

Terrell

January 24th, 2012
10:10 am

Opie,

I live in Michigsn and I see Houston play and the same issues he had in Atlanta are the same ones he has now. He has a better dline though that’s it. A lot of his ints came becase the dline got great pressure but when the line didn’the struggled. Keith Brooking is not a better MLB that Lofton. He was a good WLB when he was here in his prime and he was better as an ILB in a 3-4. Laurent Robinson couldn’t stay healthy when he was here. Harry Douglas doesn’t need the “burst” or “seperation” speed. He is an excellent route runner and quick out of his cuts, which is what you want from a slot receiver.

Paddy O

January 24th, 2012
10:10 am

#2 should really be Grimes; othewise, predominantly concur. 6 guys on offense should signed, assuming the price is right; and all 9 guys on Defense – but, again, if the price for each player fits our budget. This is especially important considering our lack of draft picks, at least this year. Good luck, TD – hope you make the right picks!

BigLou

January 24th, 2012
10:17 am

Keep:

C. Lofton – no explanation necessary.
H. Douglas – if we are able to utilize the spread offense effectively this year, this could be a breakout season for him.
Snelling – never utilized effectively. A very good receiving/running back. He runs with attitude.
Hayden/Sanders – They stepped up and did some good things for our secondary. Now we just need them to stat healthy.
Abe – old but reliable.

Maybe:
DeWhiff – Won’t be sad if he left, but I wonder how hd would do under Mike Nolan.
Beirman – this guy is not being used effectively. He has good hands and should be used as a OLB/Stand up lineman. If not, then cut him loose.
Weems – stupid decisions last year, but still can be a game changer.
Grimes – depends on his cost.

Everyone else can take a hike.

ugadawgfan

January 24th, 2012
10:22 am

Why is signing Lofton such a priority? He is great against the run – but if you watched the playoffs you would have noticed the back of Lofton’s jersey many times as he was getting torched by whatever receiver he was suppossed to be covering. We need a coverage middle linebacker since we have New Orleans and green Bay to beat every year

D3

January 24th, 2012
10:24 am

Wow — Amazing how a little blog post can get some so d@mn angry.

Kurtis — Welcome to the Cage if this is your first time. That was my only point on Grimes. Some are really pissed off at me for saying we shouldn’t re-ink Grimes, but that’s obviously missing the point. I think we SHOULD re-sign Grimes, but we can’t keep everyone and I’ve just gotten the feeling that he is ready to leave.

screg — To be fair, Laurent Robinson had been a major injury bust everywhere he’s been since last year. The Rams dropped him along with us. It does suck to know we could have had him though.

falCANS — Again, you’re missing my point. I absolutely think we SHOULD re-sign Grimes, but we’re not going to be able to. Grimes is ready to max out and demand around 7-8 or even 9 million. How can we afford him? Not saying it’s right, but TD screwed us with the DRob deal.

ANTOINEFORD

January 24th, 2012
10:26 am

Bierman is a lazy bum. Grimes isn’t worth the money and Turner is only good against the bad teams. HD won’t be missed, neither will Weems, and I’m pretty sure Abraham wants out. It’s time to get rid of all the underachievers so we can get a decent pass rush going.

LRD

January 24th, 2012
10:26 am

Trademark.. you called it on firing (or release) of Reynolds. This now changes some things. With a new DB coach and a new DC, could we see the money on DRob now become a good thing?
And now with new Def Coaches, will there be hard choices, or will they want to keep the talent on the team and see if they can work with what is in place?
DeCoud: Bye Bye. As others have stated, I hate his showboating and then in a few plays he gets burned.
Sanders: I have said this before, but I swear our tackling tightened up as soon as he was on the field. Is that a knock on Moore? Maybe, but it sure seemed we had less broken tackles with him in there.
Zolenka: Keep the long snapper. Especially if we keep stalling in the red zone, we have ot insure we get that ball back correctly for those Field Goals.

Grimes: be interesting how this one plays out, especially in the press. As that is where this will be pushed from Grimes perspective. Love his heart, and drive, and would be kinda bummed to see him go.

Without a lockout this year, there will be more time to judge the talent and what to keep and what not to keep. and again with the chaos of new coaching , it will be hard to call right now what our team will look like this fall.

Ken Strickland

January 24th, 2012
10:32 am

While there are a number of factors that might influence who gets released/traded and who gets resigned, it will ultimately be up to our DC and OC. If Nolan wants to employ a DEF system and approach that requires above average cover CBs, then we might see BGrimes being resigned. If Nolan isn’t ready to turn LDE over to Sidbury, Biermann or Mathews, then JAbraham will be resigned. If Koetter wants to expand the OFF and wants more versatility out of our RBs, we could see MTurner traded or released.

It just doesn’t make good financial sense to pay feature RB money to a RB that needs his reps reduced, is a poor pass receiver and isn’t a good fit in the new OCs OFF scheme. Even though the new kickoff rule reduced EWeems value as a returner, he proved his value as a solid if not spectacular performer on coverage teams, ala Brian Finneran.

QB CRedman will be an interesting decision. If we draft a QB, it’s a good bet he’s gone. Even though he’s not a FA, OT SBaker will be another interesting decision. I doubt very seriously if he’ll be back as our starting LT, and I don’t think anyone thinks WSvitek is the long term solution at LT. I believe Hawley is still considered to be TMcClure’s heir at OC, due to his success last yr as his temporary replacement, as well as his success as GReynolds replacement at RG. McClure should be brought back, but not as a starter.

LB MPeterson should also be brought back. He provides excellent leadership and backup protection at OLB and ILB, as well as on special teams. This could turn out to be the most critical off seasn in this franchises history. With a new OC, DC, OL, DB and QB coach, and the signing of so many key FAs to potential long term contracts, we’ll have at least 3-4yrs of stability as we work towards a Superbowl title.

John Waynesworld

January 24th, 2012
10:35 am

JB FALCON

January 24th, 2012
10:38 am

Read the post, skipped strait to here so a not to be swayed by o p o.
Keep Douglas, Snelling, Lofton, Abraham, Grimes, Decoud, Bierman, Sanders.
I’ll disect that later.

honest_abe

January 24th, 2012
10:41 am

waynesworld – you make an excellent point on lofton. although he’s been more than solid in the middle he’s not untouchable. i’d much rather use that money on either the d-line or o-line. freaking the nyg found their starting middle linebacker in the middle of the season off waivers. a great front 4 does wonders to mask the deficiencies in the backend of your defense.

trademark

January 24th, 2012
10:49 am

Sorry guys, gonna have to keep disagreeing here and call the hypocrisy police on ‘ya….

How can you fire the O-Line Coach, call it a good move, and NOT blame it on the lame-a$% schemes, and then turn around and want not to fire the D-Line coach…whose unit tragically underperformed and then blame that on the lame-a%4 schemes?

Can’t have it both ways, guys, c’mon….

On the other side of things, I can see your point, SW, on the GOOD qualities of Terry R. BUT, those drops are very, very bothersome, and they weren’t something random, they occurred frequently throughout the season and cost us games. More importantly, it wasn’t fixed, even when the problem became apparent early and midway through the season. This concerns me about the coaching there, SW, more than a little, but again, good point on how he has developed the production levels of the receivers…but they have GOT to catch the ball. Occasional drops are one thing, leading the league in drops is something else entirely.

honest_abe

January 24th, 2012
10:50 am

if only a coach could catch the ball for their receivers.

problem with dline = lack of talent.

trademark

January 24th, 2012
11:00 am

…or work with them on their concentration…oh wait…he CAN do that….and if he did, it didn’t work….need a new strategy, and FAST. Anyone want to disagree with me that drops were one of the things that killed us last season?

honest_abe

January 24th, 2012
11:04 am

drops were one of the biggest problems for the offense this year. but robiskie has done a helluva job in turning around roddy’s career. but trying to place blame on roddy one down year on his position coach doesn’t make much sense. we all heard about problems roddy was having in his personal life. at a certain point a player has to take responsibility for his shortcomings. robiskie is a fine wr coach. end of story.

FREEZE!!!

January 24th, 2012
11:08 am

How could you not even mention Grimes?! Are you legally stupid?
Anyone who even considers Decoud just Wants to lose. Smdh

Ken Strickland

January 24th, 2012
11:10 am

I’d give almost anything to have BGrimes and DRobinson manning our CB positions in an aggressive man to man cover DEF. Even if we brought back last yrs secondary intact, I believe we’d get drastically improved results, with them playing a more aggressive DEF, which Nolan will surely impliment. I would simply go crazy with excitement seeing CBs DRobinson/BGrimes, SAFETIES WMoore, TDeCoud, and LBs SWeatherspoon, CLofton and SNicholas in an aggressive man to man DEF.

While DRobinson isn’t in the same category as Darrell Revis as a cover CB, the style of play that both are most effective in playing is certainly the same. If 2 of the NFLs top 5 CBs faulted noticeably after being forced to play zone, and/or in a way that’s not suited to their style of play, why would we expect Dunta to suffer as well? Since Dunta isn’t as fast as most man CBs, he had trouble dealing with speedy WRs coming off the line at full speed untouched.

trademark

January 24th, 2012
11:18 am

….drops and YAC….ranked 22nd and 31st respectively, Jones and White…out of the first 40 qualified receivers…that ain’t so good either…but hey, it’s probably the talent…I mean, hey, Roddy did have the 8th or 9th highest yards per game…who cares if he also led the league in being targeted as well….9 more times than Wes Welker…who led the league in YAC…*sigh*

honest_abe

January 24th, 2012
11:24 am

your comparing apples and oranges. the fact that the falcons lacked in yac relates to their position coach how? so i’m assuming new england has the greatest wr coach since their te’s and wes welker like you just said have amazing yac. does that even make sense? new england has a wide open offensive scheme which get’s defenses out of position which result in favorable matchups hence great yac. but as most have already pointed out the falcons employed a predictable offense. short little 5-10 yard out patterns make it hard to have great yac. don’t know if i can break it down for you anymore than that.