10 Falcons Free Agent Questions

Defensive end John Abraham

How Much for Re-Sign? (AJC)

Sickness has made its way through the family and has even batted around the order. Working on new “Risk or Play it Safe” post currently, but wanted to get a new thread up to let the Bird Cage Faithful talk Falcons and Football. Until new post gets up, here’s 10 questions to get the conversations going……..

1) Is Brent Grimes the 2nd Best Overall Free Agent on the Market?

Yesterday, AJC’s Jeff Schultz came out with an article reporting that ProFootballFocus.com (known for their intensive use of stats), rated Brent Grimes as the 2nd best overall free agent on the market. Do you agree with this assessment? If so, should the Falcons consider using the franchise tag on him, thus awarding him an almost $11 million dollar contract?

2) Can Lawrence Sidbury and or Cliff Matthews Take Over if Abraham Leaves?

The same website ranked John Abraham as the #3 overall free agent on the market. Turning 34 in May, Abraham seems ready to cash in on one last contract and it appears the Falcons won’t get into a bidding war over a player hitting 34 and mostly relegated to being a pass-rushing specialist. Can Sidbury and/or Matthews be ready to take over if Abraham leaves?

3) Is Curtis Lofton an Every Down Linebacker?

Can Franks Step Up? (AJC)

This one’s simple: is soon-to-be-free-agent middle linebacker Curtis Lofton an every down linebacker or is he destined to be solely a run-stuffing two down MLB? If you believe he is only scratching the surface of becoming a play-making LB, than you have your answer on whether the Birds should pay the man. If you believe the latter, than you also have your conclusion on whether the Falcons should get into a bidding war over him.

4) Can Falcons Afford to Lose Grimes, Abraham, and Lofton?

The three biggest free agents to be are Brent Grimes, John Abraham, and Curtis Lofton. Is there anyway the Falcons can afford to lose all three, all on the defensive side of the ball? Unfortunately, even if they happen to lose all three, they won’t be saving very much money against the cap, except for Abraham’s salary ($8 million). Would it set back the Falcons defense years if all three get away?

5) How Much Would You Pay to Keep Harry Douglas?

Surely, the Falcons want to keep Harry Douglas and certainly there’s probably a part of him that wants to stay with his hometown Falcons. Like all other free agent signings, this one will come down to how much Douglas thinks he deserves and how much the Falcons value him. By way of comparison, James Jones was in a similar position last year as Green Bay’s 4th WR option and many thought he could go be a #2 WR in another offense. He stayed with the Packers to the tune of a $3.3 million dollar a year deal. Is Douglas worth that? More or less?

6) Is Eric Weems Worth $1.2 Million?

Eric Weems made $1.2 million dollars last year, essentially to be the Falcons kickoff and punt returner. Perhaps it wasn’t his fault that former offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey couldn’t integrate more than 2 receivers at a time, but in a cost cutting year, is Eric Weems worth the same amount as last year? If so, should he be under some mandate to be integrated into the offense?

7) Are Turner and Snelling Mutually Exclusive?

Falcons running back Michael Turner breaks away from Buccaneers defenders for a 81-yard touchdown run and a 42-0 lead during first-half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012.

#33 & #44 Mutually Exclusive? (AJC)

As much as fans talk about the Falcons parting ways with Michael Turner, it has not really been the case with Thomas Dimitroff’s track record. Last year, the Falcons let Jason Snelling test the market before re-signing him. If Turner definitely comes back, does that mean that Snelling will finally be gone elsewhere? Should he?

8.) Who’s Your Biggest Head-Scratcher?

Of the 17 Falcons free agents, which player is the hardest to gauge whether they will or should come back and at what price?

9) How Radical Should This Off-Season Be?

Should the Falcons go piecemeal and only slightly adjust the roster or should they throw caution to the wind, make deep cuts, and dramatically remake this roster for the long haul? What big name free agents should the Falcons part ways with in order to remake a roster that clearly can’t win in the postseason? Or should they re-sign most of their own free agents and only try to tweak a roster that has made the playoffs 3 out of the last 4 years?

10) How Active Should the Birds Be in Free Agency?

Not including their own free agents, how active in free agency must the Falcons be? The offensive line has been the main talking point thus far. Should the Falcons go out and sign not only one offensive lineman, but two? Do the Birds need to actively search for replacements for the expected potential losses of Grimes, Abraham, Lofton, and Douglas? What free agents do you have your eye on?

Bird Cage Faithful’s Turn

Have your go at the 10 questions

454 comments Add your comment


February 14th, 2012
6:42 am

Pete E. Tong

February 14th, 2012
7:00 am


Ain’t nothing wrong with silver.


February 14th, 2012
7:13 am

#8… Biggest head scratcher to me is DeCoud… I can justify letting Grimes go, letting Abe go… possibly letting Lofton go… and I can just as easily see bringing back each of them. But DeCoud… I just can’t commit either way…

Pete E. Tong

February 14th, 2012
7:21 am

PPF’s analysis is flawed in that it’s heavily dependent on the evaluation of a single person with regards to an individual’s performance on the given number of plays they are involved in. Football is highly circumstantial and it’s a very one dimensional approach. Granted, it is better than most approaches but it still fails to report the entire situation.

That said, ranking John Abraham over Robert Mathis is absurd. An argument can be made either way for Grimes vs. Finnegan but John Abraham 6 spots higher than Robert Mathis? Never mind the slight age gap between Abraham and Mathis but what about the consistency? Projections? It just seems blatantly ignorant to assume John Abraham is more valuable at this point in his career than Robert Mathis.


February 14th, 2012
8:01 am

Brent Grimes and some of his Falcons teamates will be hosting a camp for kids ages 7-18 this summer. Check out http://www.footballcamps.com for more information.


February 14th, 2012
8:12 am

d3: great write up as always.

question for you and everyone else. i’m clueless when it comes to the salary cap and numbers. yes i go against the stereotype that asians are good with numbers, but if the falcons let abe, grimes and lofton walk wouldn’t the potential savings be pretty big? considering all 3 are expected to get a sizeable contract couldn’t that bulk of money be used elsewhere? once again please excuse my ignorance but let’s say that the big 3 would have been signed for 8mil/each on avg. could that money not be used to sign one big time free agent … i.e. mario williams? just askin.


February 14th, 2012
8:43 am

D3. .good work, as usual. All these questions are good ones, and I have no answers. As a fan, I like them all and have pulled for them all. But I know that something’s gotta give here, just don’t know what. Something is bugging me, scratching at the dark recesses of my beady little brain. . .could we see a “star” player currently on our roster be packaged for an earlier pick than we currently have? Don’t know why, that thought keeps creepin’ into my head.

Pete E. Tong

February 14th, 2012
8:50 am

Well according to the Massey-Thaler draft study, teamguy, trading up a few spots might bite us in the butt in the future.

They found that in terms of productivity, there wasn’t that big of a difference between the first round and the second (something along the lines of a 3% better chance of landing a more productive player in the first round rather than the second). Considering who we’d have to give up to move up in the draft, I’d hate to give away an established player for a chance at that extra 3%.


February 14th, 2012
8:56 am


the blind leading the blind. which o-coordinator is more inept? we shall soon find out.


February 14th, 2012
9:02 am

To me, Lofton and Grimes should be back. Lofton and Spoon make up a great run stop LB core and they are young. JA#55 is easily my favorite Falcon of all time and would love to have him around, but price vs. player development/production/injury is a risky choice I wouldn’t want to make.

Mario is not coming (opposite day!) and we have already heard that we are going to strengthen our team via numbers not big FAs. I really would like to see us keep the big three add decent mid-level folks like Crowder and draft heavy Oline and Dline.


February 14th, 2012
9:06 am

Some excellent questions, there…I’ll give it a go…
1 Yes, Grimes is that good, especially in comparison to the other FA CBs.
2 I seriously doubt it. I’ve seen no evidence to support it. The coaches have, and they’ve kept them off the field.
3 Lofton is one of our few leaders on defense, so it pains me to say that his pass defense numbers say he’s a 2-down guy.
4 No. It would be too disruptive losing Lofton for the above stated reason. The other 2 positions need an upgrade, especially DE. I prefer taller CBs and they’re few and far between. Unless we’re fairly sure of finding one, I would have to at least consider matching whatever Grimes gets offered before franchising him for a year.
5 3 million sounds fair for Douglas
6 No thanks. I’d draft Doug Martin RB Boise St. in round 2. He averaged over 30 yds/return.
7 Depends on what the cap savings would be. More than likely, I’d let Snelling test the market, since Turner is one of the “faces” of the franchise. Doug Martin can cover both positions(#2 RB.KR)
8 DeCoud, I guess. His inconsistency is unacceptable but the potential is there…scratch scratch….
9 This isn’t a total re-build but it IS a significant renovation. If you find problems while you’re already disrupted, make the repairs while you’re at it…
10 Just a couple of FA acquisitions should be plenty but they’ll be BIG, splashy hires (as TD has shown a tendency to do) Who, of all the FAs out there would make the biggest improvement in our team? Who will other teams have to fear and gameplan for? Only 2. Mario Williams and Carl Nicks. Those are the only guys worth the $$$. Nicks immediately solves most of our O-Line weakness and Williams immediately gives us a true threat at DE. It’ll be outrageously expensive but deals can be structured in ways that ease the Salary Cap impact, allowing us to re-sign most of our guys and the rookie class….


February 14th, 2012
9:58 am

Getting Nicks or Grubbs should be top priority i would not mind bringing back Lofton and Grimes if let John Abraham go we should at least look into bringing in Mario Williams i know he will ask for a lot money but how often does a stud DE like this become available not many should we look at Trent Richardson if Turner is on down turn he was teammates with Julio Jones probably wont happen .


February 14th, 2012
10:06 am

Unless TD mortgages future drafts, Trent Richardson will be out of our reach–he may actually be worth the cost, since he’s THAT good. Barring injury, looks like a future HOFer–I just think we’ll stay put and need to pick up a guy like Martin, who can be a 3-down back if we coach him up on blocking technique ( he’s a willing blocker). Guys like Williams are SUPER Rare. They’re true game-changers….


February 14th, 2012
10:08 am

When the “draft gurus” make a comparison between Martin and a current NFL player, most are saying “Ray Rice”. The kid is a human bowling ball….


February 14th, 2012
10:12 am

How does Nicks repair our Line immediately? He’s a Guard and we have arguably the best guard tandem in the NFL. I appreciate the pursuit of Nicks because it immediately strengthens our line and weakens our biggest foe’s line. Nicks is not a LT and cannot be converted without some learning curve issues.

If you want to splash $ in FA, then go for the number one hole DE. Mario Williams. The Texans would have to tag him and then he would have to take a discount in order to stay with the Texans. Arguably, the Texans are as close to the Super Bowl as the Falcons. If you do Mario, say goodbye to JA#55 and Harry Douglas.

We crave names, look for Jarret Johnson from Ravens to be available, but we would have to pay through the nose for an edge LB.


February 14th, 2012
10:18 am

ddawgdavis: best gaurd tandem in the league? what the hell are you smoking? we only rotated 3 people into the RG since last year. please no crazy talk in the cage or you’ll get called out for it.

Die Hard Falcon

February 14th, 2012
10:27 am

Good questions D3, I’ll give it a try:

1)I don’t believe that Grimes is the 2nd best FA this year, I can think Super Mario and Carl Nicks for starters. That being said, I think he’s the best CB for sure in FA. I say the best thing we can do is franchise Grimes and then trade him for a 2nd or 3rd round pick, there’s no cap hit on a franchised player and then we get something back for him.

2)I don’t know about Matthews, I’ve never seen him play except in preseason. I think that Sidbury is good, but more of a pass rush specialist, I don’t see him as a 3 down lineman, but still a valuable piece and worth having around. So, no, I wouldn’t feel great if we let Abe walk and don’t try to fill the spot.

3)Curtis Lofton is a terrific 2-down LB, and a decent 3rd down LB w/ potential. I know I sound like a politician, but it’s hard to say, sometimes he shows flashes, but other times he is either too slow or out of position, not sure which.

4)I think that we can afford to lose all 3 IF we fill the void. I feel like DRob, Franks, Owens, Walls are a good set of CB’s as long as we can generate a pass rush. I think the front 7 are the most important and if we let these 3 go, then we must land Super Mario, of course that’s easier said than done, if we get a pass rush then I’m comfortable w/ our secondary, and tackle-machine MLB’s aren’t that difficult to find. What we’d miss most is Lofton’s leadership I think.

5)I think HD could be an important part of our offense if we start to utilize him properly. He’s a terrific slot guy and if we let him go, he’ll have success, I could see paying him 3 mil.

6)I would say that it depends on the cap situation for Weems, he is a great special teams player, but HD (if we resign) and Franks can both return kicks and unless they think he can become a viable WR, it’s probably not worth it.

7)Snelling, not too worried one way or the other, I think he’s a serviceable backup and he shows up, if we can bring him back cheap again, I think we should, but to me, Quizz should be our #2.

8)Kroy Biermann. I think if we plan on playing any hybrid 3-4 or eveentually moving that direction in the next year or 2, then he would be a valuable guy to have around. I think it should be at a cheap price, but if we had Spoon and Biermann coming off the edge as rush LB’s, they’d be a formidable force. If they are staying w/ the 4-3 completely, not sure if he is worth a spot.

9)I think this offseason has already been radical, 2 new coordinators, several new coaches, new scouts, etc. I believe that as far as personnel, I don’t think it will be or should be drastic, I believe the right moves, especially along the lines will go a long way.

10)I think in terms of FA, the Falcons should concentrate on impact players such as Carl Nicks & Mario Williams, not sure if we have a shot at either, but we need to get people who’ll make a difference. Robert Mathis or if we let HD go, Colston would also be great additions. I think we have a solid nucleus, and just need a few key tweeks.

Go Falcons!!!

Tha Real Falcon

February 14th, 2012
10:36 am

Anyone who believes that Grimes in not a top CB either does not know football or has not seen the Falcons play without him.
This is the same jealous talk that kept the Thrashers from paying Kovy. Oh, he’s not worth it! He leaves and they nose dive. Followed closely by the team leaving.
Pay them what they’re worth and quit the complaining.

Tha Real Falcon

February 14th, 2012
10:40 am

So which of the three RG’s constitute that best guard tandem in the NFL? Are you kidding. The reason we had no push up the middle on running plays is due to the guard play. Nicks ia a Pro Bowl guard. None of our three RG’d are even close. Are we able to keep the talk real instead of just smoke-blowing?

DC Dirty Bird

February 14th, 2012
10:45 am

Great post Die Hard. I’m in the let Grimes walk before we pay big bucks to him. We have needs on the line that require investing in. I don’t think you can invest in CB’s when you don’t have stability on the DLine. I like Super Mario, but I surmise it will be hard for him to leave the soon to be contending Texans without Peppers-like compensation. As far as Abe, what playoff caliber organization is going to offer him a big enough deal to move away from his family in SC?

I have a sneaky feeling that the defensive names will stay the same primarily with a few tweaks in the defensive backfield.


February 14th, 2012
11:04 am

Unlike the peppers deal with CHI, Mario is actually WORTH that kind of $$$ at this point in his career, since he’s got a lot more years in the tank. Houston is in an interesting place. They have very few team needs, slot receiver probably being the biggest. That leaves them lots of room to negotiate with Williams–HOWEVER they have the players to replace Williams already onboard MUCH cheaper. The loss of Williams won’t effect them as seriously as the loss of, say, Abe, would hurt us since we have unknown elements backing him up. They’ve got Barwin and Watt ready to jump right in. Other than DE, I expect us to draft a big DT in the 5th like Mike Martin or Nick Jean-Baptiste to jump in for Jerry,and a speedy slot guy like Ryan Broyles from OK, Joe Adams from ARK or Marquis Maze from AL in the 6th to save that Harry Douglas $$$….

Ken Strickland

February 14th, 2012
11:11 am

First, rating FAs is a very subjective process. How high a team might rate a player depends entirely on that teams particular needs. I seriously doubt that the Eagles, with Asomugha, Cromartie and Samuels, would rate him anywhere near that highly on their list. But a team like the Patriots, who are starving for cover CBs might.

1-We can definitely afford to let Grimes go. Owens has proven his capable of being a starter on the outside. Although Walls and Franks haven’t had as many opportunities as Owens to prove their ability, they’ve certainly shown they’re up to the task in the limited opportunities they have had. The new pressing man to man coverages Nolan intends to imploy certainly fits what Robinson, Walls and Franks do best. If we were talking about replacing a #1 cover CB with one of our backups, then I’d be a bit concern. But DRobinson is considered our #1, whether we accept it or not, but he’s expected to perform like a #1 under Nolan’s new DEF system.

2-If we’re going to improve as a team we have to start taking advantage of the young players we’ve drafted, as well as the UFAs we’ve signed. We can’t keep drafting and signing UFAs with potential and burying them on the depth chart behind FAs that we’ve signed to big contracts and relegating them to STs only. Let Abe go and give Sidbury the same opportunity to start that Biermann got. The fact that Biermann didn’t pan out as a starter doesn’t mean we won’t hit a homerun with Sidbury.

3-Whether MLB CLofton is an everydown LB in a mute point. He does more for this team in 2 downs than anyone else on this team at his position can do in 4. How can we consider not resigning the heart and soul of our DEF when we haven’t had a legitimate backup at his position since he’s been here, at least not one with any proven or starting experience. Bring him back.

4-With 17 UNRESTRICTED FAs, and major needs on our OL, we might be much better off NOT resigning Abraham and Grimes.

5-Let’s face it, a good #3 WR won’t be hard to find, and likely much cheaper than HDouglas. We might be able to find a UFA gem to replace him. Over the last 2yrs we’ve seen some pretty talented UFA WRs in camp that for some reason Mularkey wouldn’t retain.

6-To answer that question, in a word, NO! The best punt returner we had in camp last yr was DFranks, and if we resign HDouglas, we’ll have 2. The new kickoff rule has rendered that part of special teams all but unnessary.

7-I believe this will be Turner’s last yr as a Falcon. He’s been injury prone every yr starting with the 09 season, and he’s struggled to keep his weight in check. With those 2 issues to deal with, I’m not certain we can afford not to resign Snelling, since he’s a proven RB.

8-CURTIS LOFTON is my head scratcher.

9-Until we know what OC Koetter and DC Nolan’s requirements are for the type of players that ft in their respective OFF and DEF systems, we can’t know who should be resigned, retained, or let go.

10-I don’t think we’ll be as active as some might think. I see us making one big splash in FA, and that will likely be something along the OL. Other than that, our biggest splash will be relegated to the resigning of some of our own FAs. I see us using this yrs draft and FA primarily to strengthen our bench. Both of our coordinators might feel we have talent already on our team that can flourish in their OFF and DEF systems.

Every single sportswriter that I’ve read, that talked about our CB situation, felt that DRobinson will have a breakout yr under Nolan. Everyone of them felt he will once again become the physical, intimidating Probowl caliber CB that he was with Houston. With the emphasis on using our LBs more to provide a pass rush, rather than having them drop back into zone pass coverage, Lofton’s role could be changed for the better.

And let’s face it, the change in our blocking scheme, play calling, and overall OFF approach, might have a profound effect on players like GReynolds, MJohnson, SHawley and AJackson. It could also make it a lot easier for a player like OC TMcClure, and allow him to preform at a higher level. I think we should DEFINITELY bring back:
1-Lofton-MLB(We have no depth or proven player to replace him)
2-Biermann-DE(Letting Biermann and Abraham go would destroy our depth at DE)
3-Sanders/DeCoud-FS(We have no proven depth whatsoever if we let them go)
4-McClure-OC(He’s the only proven starter we have at OC. We gave up 9 sacks in the 3gms he missed and only17 in the13gms he played).

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Pete E. Tong

February 14th, 2012
11:47 am

Some of you folks are lofty to suggest snagging both Carl Nicks AND Mario Williams in the same free agency patch.

Where did the Demetrius Bell rumors go? Couple him with Mario Williams or Robert Mathis or even Cliff Avril and at least our dream acquisitions seem plausible!

I don’t \

Paddy O

February 14th, 2012
11:50 am

honest abe – that really you in the 8:12 post? did not know there was something you were clueless about – lol; I dont’ recommend we blow up the D, but it depends on Nolan. I like our talent – I franchise Grimes, sign Lofton & Abe, maybe sign DeCoud at a low cost; I’d also resign Sanders & Hayden. I still prefer to slide Dunta to safety, let Owens & Grimes play the outside – if Wall has the genuine upside many see, he would get some good playing time behind Franks. Our key focus this off season should be O line, not refitting the D. I’d also sign Zelenka & Snelling – really like snelling, and out RB depth is shallow. We could use a RB that can leap.

Paddy O

February 14th, 2012
11:51 am

I think Biermann for less than 1.5 mil would be a good cap buy.

Big Ray

February 14th, 2012
11:51 am

honest abe ,

“yes i go against the stereotype that asians are good with numbers”

Boy, you CRAZY. As for the guy saying we had the best guard tandem in the League, I think what he meant was that if we managed to get Carl Nicks, we’d have the best guard tandem in the League with a combo of him and Blalock.

Personally, I’m still not sure that would be the case, but we’d have to be in the top 3-to-5 if that happened.

Paddy O

February 14th, 2012
11:52 am

Mario has been a dream for some Cagers since summer 2011.

Big Ray

February 14th, 2012
11:56 am

1) No. You almost never franchise a 5′8″ CB. I can’t think of any exceptions off hand, either.

The truth about Grimes is he’s an exceptional athlete with good instincts and recovery speed. The minute his athleticism drops off even the slightest bit for whatever reason, be it age or injury (and he just had one of those), he becomes quite a bit less than he is. To add to the problem, Grimes is quite scrappy, but he’s not what most would call “physical.” Oddly enough, that’s where his across-the-field counterpart (DRob) excels. Same with Chris Owens. Grimes is good, and he’s a pro-bowler. But no franchise tag. We’ve survived our bad zone schemes and iffy pass rush with him in the backfield, but the clock has been ticking all this time.

FACT: We need to get bigger and more physical in the secondary. Grimes isn’t a part of that new movement.


February 14th, 2012
12:02 pm

br: that makes sense. if we did get nicks yes we’d have some nice beef inside.

paddyo: there’s a lot i’ll admit to being clueless about. women, money and nuclear physics just to name a few.

heh. someone in here has to be a salary cap guru. help a brother out.

Pete E. Tong

February 14th, 2012
12:05 pm

“1) No. You almost never franchise a 5′8″ CB. I can’t think of any exceptions off hand, either. ”

Marcus Trufant in 2008? Or is he too tall at 5′ 11″ for your argument’s sake? Dunta Robinson in 2009?

I mean, of the 3 CB’s that have been franchised since 2007, 1 has been two inches taller than Brent, 1 has been 3 inches taller than Brent. Do you care to guess who has the vertical edge?

darrell starks

February 14th, 2012
12:11 pm

1. Brent Grimes number 2 free agent, Grimes have been solid over the past 2 season but there is no way to over pay for CB with Dunta already making 7mill a year, unless he is a top tier shut down corner.
Pay Grimes no more than 5mill.

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

February 14th, 2012
12:32 pm

2. Lawerency Sidbury and Cliff Matthews are tricky ? because of BVG lack of players development, but Abraham signing is a must, this team can not afford to depend on Sid, Cliff, Ray.




GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

February 14th, 2012
12:47 pm


GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

February 14th, 2012
12:55 pm

4. Falcons can not afford to lose Abraham, Lofton, Grimes.

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

February 14th, 2012
12:59 pm

5. Harry Douglas i would love to keep, a solid number 3WR and want cause much.


GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

February 14th, 2012
1:07 pm




GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Big Ray

February 14th, 2012
1:12 pm

2) I’m convinced that Sidbury needs more snaps. I’m not convinced he’s a 3-down DE yet, as we just haven’t seen him enough. He does seem to do okay against the run, but again – haven’t seen enough.

Cliff Matthews looked pretty damn good in the preseason. His pursuit is akin to that of John Abraham and Kroy Biermann – in other words, he has the speed to make plays on his side or the other side, and he takes good pursuit angles.

Haven’t seen him enough, but I think he deserves a chance to compete for a starting spot. No, really. Why? Because I think that under our former DC (and under Smitty), some minds were made up about who would get snaps, who would get how many, etc….BEFORE training camp and the preseason. The lockout didn’t help at all, either. So naturally, the CS went with the status quo.

Under a new DC, and with a full offseason, OTAs, etc….I think the DE position should be wide-ass open. Nobody is guaranteed a starting spot, not even Ray Edwards (despite his contract). You want the best guys on the field. And if a guy shows that he has potential (Matthews) and only needs a bit of coaching up or on-field experience, then give him a real damn shot at it.

The time for holding back talented youngsters in favor of incumbent veterans MUST be put in the past.

Best way to get on that path is to start by letting Abraham go.

3) I really don’t know the answer, but Mike Nolan will. He has to, it’s his job, and I think a lot depends on his assessment.

You always have to be careful when you’re talking about letting your top tackler and a team leader go. So here are a few questions that have to be asked. First, can Lofton get better in coverage? Second, if he can’t, is there somebody on your roster that can play his spot and BE better in coverage? Third, is that guy Akeem Dent? Fourth, if you’re not sure, who do you bring in to bridge the gap until then, or are you going to have to add another guy at MLB who is your starter now and in the future? If so, then how do you acquire him? Most likely, you do so through the draft. But that is an unpredictable and inexact science. In fact, it’s a tough gamble. Let your starter go, and you might still not get the guy in the draft you want. THEN what do you do?

I know this much – Lofton is an upgrade in coverage away from being a perennial pro-bowl LB.

FACT: Leaders aren’t easy to find. If Lofton is a leader, then he brings more to this team than just 2 downs of terrific run-stuffing play. Trade a leader, and you better have one as good or better in your back pocket to replace him. So that’s another question – is Lofton enough of a leader on this team? If not, can he further develop in this area?

4) Simple answer/opinion on that one – losing Grimes and Abraham is ultimately survivable.

We’re looking at this the wrong way. The reason why is because we keep forgetting we just hired Mike Nolan, and haven’t had a chance to see what he can do with our talent. The old scheme required that we desperately cling to guys like Grimes and Abe. Nolan and his schemes will not require such things. With Nolan, we have a chance to see guys put into position to succeed on EVERY PLAY. No more zone. No more lack of pressure.

Most importantly, no more survival depending on one, two, or even three specific players.

5) I don’t know. But overpaying is not an option. HD can do a lot for us. Depending on what happens with Roddy White, we could run an offense that features Julio as the #1 guy and HD as the #2. As problematic as White has been, however, only a trade for a high draft pick (or picks), or a trade for a good player at a key position will do. In the right scheme, White and Jones are still very hard to defend, both are physical, both have speed. HD still fits, but he may not get what James Jones got. Or he might get almost exactly that. Hard to say.

6) Again, if Roddy White is not around for some reason (trade), then Weems has a shot. Otherwise, NO, he is not worth the money. A combination of the new kickoff rules and who knows what else has made Weems pretty much a non-factor. Otherwise, he can go….could be replaced by Kevin Cone for all we know….

7) If the Falcons are smart, they’ll be looking to gash defenses with the run, not pound away at them. That said, this does not require a power style RB. Snelling is good as a backup, but if his presence gets in the way of Rodgers getting increased PT, then he needs to go. My guess is that he’s gone anyway. Falcons might be better served finding and acquiring a quicker/more elusive third RB. They have Antone Smith. They could draft or pick up another guy in FA.

However, if Turner isn’t staying for some reason, then Snelling is a guy I’d keep.

8) Have to say its Lofton. Letting the guy go is a scary proposition in some ways, yet going in another direction is an exciting one. If we stuck with a 4-3 exclusively, I’d say we most likely keep him. But I’m not convinced that we will do that, and at the same time I think we’re going to see more 3-4 hybrid looks than we anticipate. But that’s all just conjecture and speculation on my part….

9) I think the Falcons need to be smart and aggressive in FA in regard to the offensive line. This is how the chain works – protect the QB and the weapons you’ve given him so that the offense can protect the defense.

No, I don’t mean that the defense needs or will need protecting due to weakness. I mean that the good teams have an offense that can protect what the defense has done. Furthermore, you don’t ever put a defense out there to win the entire game for you. The offense has to score points. We have too much talent and too much money tied up into ours for it to continue to not score points, even against the best defenses.

So build that O-line. I think we can patch things together just fine on the D-line by adding a piece or two here and there through FA, the draft, and/or digging through our own roster of talent.

We need to go bigger in FA on O-line than we do on any other front. Sure, grabbing up a Mario Williams is sexy as hell and might even be a big hit. But….AGAIN….look what we have tied up in the offense, and tell me something is more important than the re-tooling of the O-line?

10) I could go for two OL FA signings. Here’s an adage – smart is always better than big. In other words, big name FA signings are all well and good. But smart ones are better. However, if a big FA signing is also a smart one, you have the best of both worlds.

On defense, I’d only look for actual “replacements” via FA if Lofton is the guy we lose. Grimes’ replacement is on the roster. Same could be said for Abe, but if a “smart” signing of a guy like Mario Williams or another dynamic DE is possible, then why not?

Here’s an example of a “smart” signing – Ray Edwards. Yeah, I know, you want to laugh. But look what we’re paying him, and he’s better than any DE on the roster not named Abraham, and if my guess is right – he’ll be as effective or better than Abe was this past season once healthy and under Mike Nolan.

Now imagine if we’d have broken the bank for Charles Johnson? Yeah, we could have had a prolific DE tandem on paper….but the fact is that Abe was not nearly as effective as we needed, and as some folks painted him to be this year, it STILL would have not solved the problem of our soft cheese zone coverage, and worst of all….

….we would NOT have the money to retain key free agents, much less go out and sign any for the OL.

So signing Ray Edwards was actually smart. He’s solid, he’ll be better (though some disagree) this season, and he really didn’t cost too much.


February 14th, 2012
1:13 pm

I starting here about Randy Moss now do we really need another WR i have also heard Hines Ward name come up to who has said he would like to finish his career at home .

darrell starks

February 14th, 2012
1:14 pm

7. TRADE 30 YEAR OLD TURNER FOR 2ROUND, 2 teams in desperate for running back LIONS OR PATROITS.


Drafte Chris Polk who is a beast.


GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!

Big Ray

February 14th, 2012
1:14 pm

Peter E. Tong ,

1. I do believe I said 5′8″. And if you think 1 to 3 inches doesn’t make a difference in overall body structure (height, weight, arm length, overall size/strength, etc), then I don’t know what to tell you.

2. What happens when Brent loses that vertical? For a fresh example, look at how he played when he came back from injury…..

Joshua Malavenda

February 14th, 2012
1:17 pm

Yay I get to get my cage fix in today. like yesterday night I checked the cage to get my fix in and I couldnt post and I was little lost to be exact lmao.

D3- good stuff as allways and I am glad to see you are feeling better.
here is my feeble attempt to answer your questions
2 I am not sure because I have never seen them play and I am not their coaching them to know where they are in their devlopment but if they do let abs walk then that will be yes because those actions of the team will signify they are ready to play since abs is a leader of the d-line .
3.I havent watched him enough to find out if he is or isnt
4.not sure
5. number 4 is my head scracher question because even if we do replace them it may mess up the dynamic of the defense similar to letting go of dahl last year
6. no sir with new kick off rules he isnt as productive and makes no contributions as a wr so he doesnt really do anything on our team

My thoughts: I was reading this article and found out a couple things:

2 of those players on that list have been coached by mike nolan and also they are free agents so what I learned is that mike is good fitting players to a scheme or vice versa and they would be awesome for the falcons to sign both of those players to turn our 4-3 defense into a hybrid one.
Ray edwards is on their also and I never really realized he was that good untill that article.

I started reading this article

I never really bought into grimes for some reason but apperently this article thinks he is pretty good. and still dont know if his stats are a product of our soft zone and I dont know how well would he do in our new press coverage.

ALll this mario Williams business has me really skeptical because I know he is one of the de in the game but a pec tear is a really severe injury and I am not sure its worth spending the money he wants is worth it.I could understand substantial medical discount but it doesnt seem like he will do that. I also got to think our medical staff is little more leanent then most medical staffs so that worries me also because they have a pattern of letting players play here that have injuries that most teams dont sign and we end up haveing to relase them because they dont produce. for example Kelvin hayden 6 teams denied him before ours did.

speaking about houston apprently peyton has decided to take a tactic from mr favre and is intrested in signing with Texans: http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/02/13/report-peyton-may-be-interested-in-playing-for-the-texans/

I would be all over that if I was texans gm I would put schuab to second keep the pride of pope hs aka Tj yates let mario williams walk to clear up cap space plus barwin are brooks are alot cheper options with the same amount of production Peyton would be a great teacher to schuab and tj. That would fill there qb depth problem and then all they would need would be extra wr , a better nt then shaun cody, and some safety depth they get all that in the draft and they will be super bowl contenders

If schaub wasnt hurt last year they wouldnt have been in the super bowl because they would have beaten the ravens and that defense would have manhandled the pats similar to what the giants did to them.

I think the falcosn should sign erin henderson for some lb depth instead of crowder what do you guys think

darrell starks

February 14th, 2012
1:21 pm

Big Ray

February 14th, 2012
1:21 pm

Marcus Trufant in 2008? Or is he too tall at 5′ 11″ for your argument’s sake? Dunta Robinson in 2009?

You’re making no sense here. I said 5′8″, as in that is too short for my taste when it comes to a franchise tag. Trufant was franchised, Grimes should not be. Trufant was a top talent the minute he stepped into the League. Grimes scrapped his way to the position he’s in now.

By the way, putting the franchise tag on a guy doesn’t always come with the best results. Robinson got the tag and eventually signed a one year offer. Then, the Texans let him go, and he came to us. Sorry, but I was underwhelmed by his performance under Brian Van Gorder. Incidentally, it seems the Texans were just fine without him, and had a better defense than we did.

Similarly, especially under a new and proven DC, I think we’d be just fine without Grimes.

But we each have our own opinions.

Big Ray

February 14th, 2012
1:26 pm

Darrell ,

Actually, I think we CANNOT afford to keep on depending on Abe. It’s like using a crutch while refusing to get proper medical treatment for a broken leg.

The crutch might keep you moving, but you’ll never move the way you should and if that leg doesn’t heal right, you’ll never BE right.

darrell starks

February 14th, 2012
1:36 pm

8. Biggest head scratcher ? TODD MCCLURE 35 YEARS OLD

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pete E. Tong

February 14th, 2012
1:38 pm

@Big Ray

1 to 3 inches matter that much, eh? I take it you’ve never seen Grimes play? Yeah Megatron TOTALLY used the height/reach advantage against Grimes, right?

You’re using the same cliches that everyone used when Grimes surfaced in the depth chart. Protip: They don’t hold water anymore.

Brent Grimes is 5′ 10″ by the way. I gave you a chance to correct yourself and you’re still going with the inaccurate facts so, enjoy the egg on your face.

Cite: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/G/GrimBr20.htm


February 14th, 2012
1:39 pm

Great article I must say!! Brent Grimes is a no-brainer! Slap him with the tag and see how well he does in a defense less clouded wifh zones and more man coverage. #50 is a top 5 mlb and has proven himself to b not only consistent and a glue guy on the defense. WE MUST RESIGN LOFTON!!! I would love to see ABE cum back but he is dispensible

darrell starks

February 14th, 2012
1:39 pm

Big Brother Ray, Abraham 3 good years left.

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


February 14th, 2012
1:43 pm