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FalcFans Podcast – Episode 14 (Two Parts)

February 27th, 2012 Comments off

Ryan and I get together in this first part of a two-part episode to talk Falcons off-season once more with some updates on free agency, draft, and the Combine. We run down our thoughts on several current Falcons including Sam Baker, Michael Turner, John Abraham, and of course the obligatory Joe Hawley argument. We also share our thoughts on which free agents and draft prospects the Falcons should target in order to improve the team in some key areas. We also give our perspectives on whether the Julio Jones looks better or worse with the value of hindsight.

In part two, we talk about Brent Grimes and Curtis Lofton and their futures in Atlanta as well as comparign Thomas DeCoud and Reggie Nelson. We also talk about a bunch of non-football topics including UFC, dating, technology, social media, and about past and future guests on the show.

Part 1:

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Duration: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Part 2:

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Duration: 1 hour

 

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop Ryan an e-mail at: ryan-valdez@live.com. Don’t forget to drop by on gamedays to hear our live broadcast at: justin.tv/didziojo

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An Auburn Reunion in Atlanta?

February 26th, 2012 Comments off
ICON SMI

Grubbs (69) and Dunlap (77) pose on the right with Auburn teammates

It is not a big secret that a major need for the Falcons headed into the off-season is improving their performance in the trenches. They got whipped up front by the New York Giants in the playoffs, as well as teams like Houston during the regular season. It exposed their inability to compete at the higher levels, which has been a big reason why the team has yet to win its first postseason game under Mike Smith. Getting stronger on the offensive line can be a major step forward to try and correct that issue.

D. Orlando Ledbetter wrote a few weeks back about whether or not the Falcons should try to sign Marcus McNeill, if the San Diego Chargers choose to part ways with him next month. It seems like that is a likely conclusion since the Chargers can clear $10 million in cap space by making the move. The key part of the equation will be whether McNeill can pass a physical, having suffered from chronic neck and spinal injuries over the years. He finished the year in San Diego on injured reserve due to suffering neck injuries that forced him out of two games in late October and November. He had off-season neck surgery following 2008, and had two surgeries on his knees last year in February and August.

When McNeill has been healthy, he’s been very good. The massive run blocker would be an upgrade at left tackle for the Falcons. One of the major issues with Sam Baker there has been his inability to get push in the ground game. McNeill has only been recorded with giving up 12.25 sacks over the past four seasons in 50 games played, according to STATS LLC. Compared to Baker, who according to STATS has given up 16.5 sacks in the last 28 games he’s played in Atlanta over the past two years.

An interesting proposition for the Falcons could be teaming McNeill with a former college teammate at Auburn in free agent guard Ben Grubbs. The pair started alongside each other for two seasons at Auburn before McNeill became a second round pick in 2006. Grubbs stayed for another year and was taken in the first round by the Baltimore Ravens in 2007. Grubbs has since developed into one of the better offensive guards in the league, playing in his first Pro Bowl this past year. Known for his solid run blocking and pass protection skills, he would be an upgrade at that position for the Falcons over Justin Blalock. Blalock has been serviceable to solid over his tenure in Atlanta, but is by no means a lynchpin for the team on the left side.

Grubbs is a free agent, one which the Ravens are intent on keeping. But the Ravens will be hard-pressed because they won’t be able to use their franchise tag on him (that will be reserved for running back Ray Rice), and Grubbs stands to make a pretty penny on the open market. With Carl Nicks set to hit free agency as well, and deals signed by players like Jahri Evans and Davin Joseph in recent years, whoever winds up with Grubbs is likely going to have to spend big.

Read more…

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New Nickname for Turner Should be “Black Hole”

February 26th, 2012 1 comment
AP from Yahoo! Sports

Michael Turner

I was disappointed to read that Mike Smith indicated that Michael Turner would remain in Atlanta as their feature back. I’m not at all surprised, but nonetheless disappointed. It would have been a bold move to cut a player coming off a 1300-yard rushing season, but I think it would be the most prudent move.

I think despite Turner’s production last year, I think he’s poised to have a sharp drop in his production this year. His play last year reminded me a lot of Jamal Lewis in 2007 with the Cleveland Browns. That year, Lewis finished with 1,304 yards, 4.4 yards per carry and 9 touchdowns. Much of that production came in a few games, racking up 308 yards in two outings against the Bengals, as well as 163 yards against the Bills, 118 against the Jets, and 134 yards against the Texans. The following year at age 29, Lewis struggled, plodding his way to a 1,002-yard season, but only averaging 3.6 yards per carry and finishing with 4 touchdowns. I mention some of those strong performances Lewis had in 2007 because they came against some of the league’s weaker run defenses that year.

Turner’s production from this past year mirrors that with some strong performances against some of the league’s weaker run defenses, notably teams like Carolina, Tampa Bay, Indianapolis, and New Orleans.

Turner just turned 30 nearly two weeks ago, and many will say that he’s a relatively young 30 because he didn’t get a lot of carries in his early to mid 20s. But just because they say it, doesn’t make it true. When you watch Turner, he moves like a guy that is 30 years old. The Falcons potentially open themselves up to having a 2008 Jamal Lewis-type year where Turner just plods his way to a high rushing total despite being very lackluster in doing so.

Smith indicates that the team will make strides to keep Turner’s “pitch count” down by trying to work in the other backs. But the best way to limit Turner’s pitch count is probably to eliminate him from the roster altogether.

The problem with Turner is not that he can’t be sporadically an effective player anymore because he’s a black hole. Now what exactly do I mean by that? A black hole is often considered one of the most destructive forces in the universe because it’s extremely high gravity sucks in everything and utterly destroys it.

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Falcons looking to extend Ryan

February 25th, 2012 Comments off

Jason La Canfora of NFL.com reports that the Falcons plan to explore a contract extension with quarterback Matt Ryan. Ryan has two years remaining on his rookie contract that he signed in 2008.

Ryan carries a cap hit of $13.5 million this year, with $2.5 million of that being guaranteed, the last guaranteed dollars to be paid on his rookie deal. By extending his deal, it would significantly lessen that cap figure and give the Falcons more money to potentially spend on the open market this off-season. Reports indicate the Falcons have roughly $30 million to spend under this year’s projected cap. It would also increase the amount of guaranteed dollars that Ryan could net in the coming years, making an extension mutually beneficial for both parties. Ryan’s cap hit in 2013 will be $10 million, none of which is guaranteed.

Fellow 2008 first round draftee Joe Flacco is seeking a contract extension from the Baltimore Ravens. Ryan signed a six-year contract worth $72 million with $34.75 million guaranteed in 2008, and any future deal is likely to exceed those totals. Since then, passers like Philip Rivers and Eli Manning have signed deals averaging around $15 million a year with between $35 and $40 million guaranteed. Top draft picks Matthew Stafford and Sam Bradford signed deals that included roughly $42 and $50 million in guaranteed money as well in the past four years. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning signed deals over the past two seasons that averaged $18 million a year and had guaranteed money of $49 and $54.4 million, respectively.

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Falcons opening talks with Grimes

February 24th, 2012 Comments off

Gregg Rosenthal of Pro Football Talk reports that the Falcons have begun negotiations with the representatives of impending free agent cornerback Brent Grimes in order to bring him back to Atlanta. General manager Thomas Dimitroff was quoted earlier today at a press conference at the Scouting Combine as saying:

Those are difficult discussions to have because they are high dollar discussions. Brent Grimes is a fine football player and we’d like to have him back. We have begun our negotions with his representatives. Ben Dogra and Tom Condon are obviously accomplished agents. We’re not wasting any time with our discussions. We feel like we can come to a good conclusion to this negotiation.

If the Falcons and Grimes cannot come to an agreement between now and March 5, it’s possible that the team could use the franchise tag on him. March 5 is the final day in which teams can designate players as franchise players, which would then restrict their ability to sign elsewhere since the Falcons would need to be compensated with draft picks. The tag for cornerbacks is expected to be at around $10.6 million, which would be fully guaranteed if Grimes were to sign his tender. The last time the Falcons used the tag on a prospective free agent was in 2009, when they placed it upon punter Michael Koenen. The start of free agency will not begin until March 13 this year.

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Falcons to meet with Abraham’s agent over weekend

February 24th, 2012 Comments off

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that the Falcons are set to meet with Rich Rosa, the agent for prospective free agent defensive end John Abraham on either Saturday or Sunday at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis to get involved in what are “do or die” negotiations. The free agent signing period begins on March 13. Previous reports indicate that Rosa expects that based on how negotiations have gone so far, Abraham will likely get his opportunity to test the market. Per Ledbetter, negotiatons have not gotten to a point where years and numbers as far as salary is concerned have been discussed. Abraham on 790 the Zone yesterday implied that he is seeking to be paid on par with the top defensive ends in the league, who make around $12 million per year.

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Cap casualties could help Falcons

February 24th, 2012 Comments off
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Marcus McNeill

Every year just before the start of free agency, you have a number of veteran players get cut by their respective teams because they are either too old, too hurt, or too expensive to keep. These players are often labeled cap casualties, and can supplement the normal unrestricted free agent pool that we see every March.

The Falcons will have their own players that could be dumped in this fashion. Michael Turner, Ovie Mughelli, Sam Baker, Peria Jerry, and Dunta Robinson are all players that are under contract and the topic has at least been broached that they have seen their last games as Falcons. In all likelihood the Falcons will keep most if not all of those players simply because they don’t need the cap space as reports indicate roughly $30 million available to the Falcons. And for those that are underachieving such as Baker, Jerry, and Robinson, there is some hope that the changes in the coaching staff can breath new life into their careers in Atlanta.

Here are some names that have been bandied about in recent weeks as potential cap cuts from other teams that could at least be interesting to the Falcons. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of players that could be cut, but just some more of the prominent names and fits I could find. A hat tip goes to Jason La Canfora of NFL.com and Brian McIntyre of Football Outsiders that were my primary sources.

Running Back

The Falcons appear intent on keeping Michael Turner, so this doesn’t appear to be an area that they will likely address. But if the Falcons were to part ways with Turner and look for a veteran physical back to team with Jacquizz Rodgers, Brandon Jacobs (Giants) could be a possibility. Jacobs at this point in his career is a part-time player, but as he showed against the Falcons in the playoffs and down the stretch, he can be very effective in that role.

Wide Receiver

If you could rewind five years, this list would feature some of the league’s top wide receivers with Hines Ward (Steelers), Chad Ochocinco (Patriots), Lee Evans (Ravens), and Donald Driver (Packers) all being potentially on the chopping block this off-season. The Falcons have already been linked to Ward by some outlets, but he is a shell of his former self. He along with Driver could make effective veteran slot options if the Falcons were to lose Harry Douglas via free agency, but neither offer as much value as Douglas does at these points in their careers. Ochocinco and Evans have a bit more left in the tank, and could definitely help the Falcons add a third wideout that can get vertical. Evan was supposed to serve that same role with the Ravens last year, but only caught 4 passes in 9 games. Ochocinco couldn’t handle the complex Patriots offense (15 catches), but he still has enough skill to be a starter on some team in this league. And playing in a decidedly less complex offense like the one likely to be employed in Atlanta could help him improve his production.

Tight End

Dirk Koetter’s offense makes ample use of the H-back position, a role that would likely be currently filled by Michael Palmer. But the Falcons could potentially upgrade that spot by going after one of these names in Chris Cooley (Redskins), Dallas Clark (Colts), or Kellen Winslow (Buccaneers). Cooley and Winslow are both dealing with knee injuries that could definitely limit their effectiveness. Clark was practically a no-show for much of the Colts season with the loss of Peyton Manning. Cooley and Clark could work very well in an H-back role, being split out in space much like a slot receiver. Winslow if he can rebound potentially offers the team an heir apparent to Tony Gonzalez, who is expected to retire after this season.

Offensive Tackle

The Falcons have already been linked to Marcus McNeill, who could be cut by the Chargers due to lingering back and neck problems. Injury concerns and age will also likely cause the Packers to cut Chad Clifton as well. While McNeill will only be 28, his injuries probably make his body seem closer that of the 35-year old Clifton. Clifton is not a long-term fix, but as a one-year solution even if he only played half the season would be 8 better games than what the Falcons have gotten out of the position in recent years. Also in the mix could be Jason Smith, who has disappointed in St. Louis, but might still be a salvageable talent. Right tackles Jammal Brown (Redskins) and Winston Justice (Eagles) might also be cut this off-season due to making more money than their production merits. Brown was once a solid left tackle for the Saints, before injuries have sapped him the past few years.

Offensive Guard

Steve Hutchinson (Vikings), Eric Steinbach (Browns), and Chris Kemoeatu (Steelers) all could be cut. All three are left guards, but could offer a quick fix at the right guard position for the Falcons. Hutchinson was the top guard in the league for years, but at age 34 might only have another year left in the tank. Kemoeatu could offer a beefy run blocker, but struggled through this past year with a bum knee and penalties. Steinbach missed all of this past year with a back injury, which never bodes well for offensive linemen.

Defensive End

While it seems doubtful, the Colts could part ways with Dwight Freeney. If so, Freeney still offers a lot of value as a pass rusher. But if the Falcons are content to let John Abraham walk via free agency, replacing him with a 32-year old Freeney would not be a significant infusion of youth. Aaron Kampman has been injured a lot in Jacksonville, but could provide a veteran presence to the rotation if the Falcons were to lose Abraham and potentially Kroy Biermann as well. Darryl Tapp (Eagles) is a good run defender and decent pass rusher that can be an effective starter if need be, but ideally is a No. 3 end on most teams.

Defensive Tackle

It doesn’t seem like the Lions will part ways with 31-year old Corey Williams, but it’s been rumored. He would be a good pickup to the Falcons rotation, as he’s shined over the years as a situational rusher on third downs. Tommy Kelly (Raiders) is the same age and has been a solid pass rusher over the years (14.5 sacks combined the past two years) that could be a really good asset in nickel situations for the Falcons. His teammate John Henderson could beef up the rotation as a stout run defender. He’s on his last legs, but could potentially provide more value as a run defender on early downs, which could allow a young guy like Corey Peters to do what he does best: rush the quarterback.

Linebacker

The Panthers might part ways with Thomas Davis, who is coming off three ACL tears. If he manages to even play in 2012, it might be unprecedented achievement. But Davis offers much of what this team needs at the linebacker position, which is someone that can help combat the quality tight ends in the league, and in this division. The Panthers were the league’s worst team with defending the tight end in 2011, and a big reason was the absence of Davis. Gary Brackett (Colts) might be cut if the Colts do intend to employ a different scheme. He would be a nice pickup for the Falcons if they lose Curtis Lofton in the middle.

Defensive Back

A number of veterans are likely to get cut here. Domonique Foxworth (Ravens) is a former Falcon that has struggled to stay healthy in Baltimore, but is only 28 and still might have some years left ahead of him. Ron Bartell (Rams) offers that big, physical corner that Mike Nolan’s defenses tend to prefer but he’ll have to prove he can stay healthy. Shawntae Spencer (49ers) played under Nolan in San Francisco, and he along with Terence Newman (Cowboys) and Marcus Trufant (Seahawks) are veterans that could help out at nickel. But it remains to be seen if any of those guys would be better options for the Falcons than just re-signing a player like Kelvin Hayden. Cedric Griffin (Vikings) is fast and physical and could be a nice pickup.

As for safeties, Michael Huff (Raiders) is a former teammate of Griffin’s at Texas, that also brings a lot of speed and athletic ability to that position. He could be a nice pickup as a replacement and potential upgrade over Thomas DeCoud at free safety.

It’s also worth mentioning that while they aren’t expected to be cut, cornerback Asante Samuel (Eagles) and defensive end Osi Umenyiora (Giants) appear headed for the trading block. Considering the Falcons have a finite amount of draft picks, it’s doubtful they would get heavily involved in courting either, particularly Samuel. The Falcons defense prides itself on being physical, and Samuel is anything but that as a cornerback. But he is still one of the premier ball-hawks in the league, and coupling him with a successfully re-signed Brent Grimes could be a potent mix. Umenyiora might be a bit more up the Falcons alley. He’s 30, which makes him a few years younger than either Freeney or Abraham and thus probably has a bit more left in the tank. The issue with him is whether he can give the Falcons a full slate of games. He missed 7 games this past year with injury. Also, Osi isn’t exactly known for his ability to defend the run. The same could have been said for John Abraham prior to joining the Falcons, and he improved, so that might not be as big an obstacle as initially perceived.

Abraham headed to free agency

February 23rd, 2012 Comments off

Steve Wyche of NFL.com reported yesterday that in talks with Rich Rosa, the agent of impending free agent defensive John Abraham, that the veteran player is likely headed for free agency based on the current level of contract negotiations with the team.

That report comes on the heels of Mark Bradley’s predictions in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the Falcons “won’t spend big” to keep Abraham. Abraham was the team’s top pass rusher this past year with 9.5 sacks, and will turn 34 in May. He first joined the Falcons in 2006 and has been one of their more prominent and stalwart defensive players since that time, having led the team in sacks in four of the past five seasons.

Bradley also made the educated guesses that the team will use their franchise tag on cornerback Brent Grimes, and won’t be too broken up if middle linebacker Curtis Lofton departs via free agency. In the case of Lofton, it mirrors what Len Pasquarelli wrote two weeks ago that the team views Lofton as a two-down defender and will pay him accordingly. It would appear that the Falcons are in the same vein with Abraham, that they will opt to keep them at the right price.

The Falcons seem poised to let players such as Abraham and Lofton test the market if they don’t manage to re-sign them before March 13.

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Falcons Combine Risers

February 22nd, 2012 Comments off
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TE Orson Charles

I’m listing some players that I think depending on their Combine performances over the next few days will start to pick up more steam as potentially draft picks for the Falcons, as well as guys that could be in a position to rise up other teams’ draft boards in general.

RB Robert Turbin, Utah State
Like many underclassman, Turbin has generally gone under the radar so far. It is generally the Combine where some of these lesser known players can rise. While it doesn’t seem like the running back position is going to be a high priority for the Falcons this April, it would behoove them to start thinking about the future of this position. Turbin is an excellent physical specimen, with a short, squat, but think build similar to Michael Turner. He probably is not going to have a blazing 40 time, but if he can run in the low 4.5s, he’s a player that can start to solidify his status as a potential Top 50 pick.

WR Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech
The local product is trying to follow in the steps of Demaryius Thomas as one of the premier second tier wide receiver prospects. Hill has excellent size and athleticism at 6’4″, and like Thomas he’s more a long strider. That can bode very well when it comes to the 40-yard dash. Again, the Falcons probably won’t be looking to make a major move at the wide receiver position given they just drafted Julio Jones, but Hill has the potential to solidify his status as a second round pick with a strong workout.

TE Orson Charles, Georgia
Because Charles is a junior, he’s not going as much love. But Charles can do something similar to Ben Watson did several years ago, which is if he has a strong workout, he can start to rise up boards. Watson ultimately wound up being a late first round pick. Who the top tight end off the board is ripe for the taking, and strong combines helped Watson and Dustin Keller a few years later improve their draft stock greatly. While a strong Combine could probably mean Charles will be drafted before the Falcons are on the clock, his moving up the board could have several implications on which tight end might be in the Falcons range.

TE DeAngelo Peterson, LSU
Peterson is another good athletic SEC tight end, that was a bit underused in LSU’s offense this past year. If he has a good Combine workout, much of that lack of production can be forgiven in scout’s eyes. And while he’s more of a middle round pick at this point, he could start to rise and be in the mix in the second round range, where many suspect the Falcons could target a tight end.

TE Ladarius Green, UL-Lafayette
Green is another tight end that could start to see his stock rise with a good Combine. And coupled with these other players near the top of the class, could turn what was previously conceived as a mediocre draft class at this position into a strong one. Green is the physical specimen of the group, standing 6’6″ and playing more like an oversized receiver. If he can couple that size and athleticism with a good 40 time, he might be in the conversation as well for the Falcons top pick.

OT Bobby Massie, Ole Miss
Massie followed Michael Oher at Ole Miss and despite not receiving the same acclaim, is probably as good an athlete as his predecessor. Massie spent his entire career at right tackle, but certainly possesses the sort of athleticism that teams look for and want in their left tackles. A strong Combine workout that displays that athleticism could solidify him as one of the Top 5 tackles in this draft class.

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DE Chandler Jones

OT Matt McCants, UAB
McCants played at the Senior Bowl, and did not use that opportunity to really solidify his draft stock going up against some of the top pass rushers on the South team. But he’ll get another chance at the Combine. As mentioned previously, teams fall in love with athletic tackles, and McCants has that potential with his size (6’6″) and long arms, he every bit looks the part of a top NFL left tackle. He’ll need a strong Combine, and he might start to move up to the late second round as a potential target for the Falcons.

DE Chandler Jones, Syracuse
There’s no doubt the Falcons need to upgrade their pass rush, and Jones is another underclassman that has gone a bit under the radar. While he’s already being projected to go in the second round range, a strong Combine workout where his size and athleticism will be on display could really cause his stock to rise, and he may be the favored target of Falcons draftniks when projecting which pass rusher hopefully is there for the team in Round Two.

OLB Terrell Manning, N.C. State
Another position that the Falcons aren’t really in the market for, but Manning definitely has a chance to improve his stock greatly. As an underclassman that surprisingly came out, he’s gone under the radar. But Manning has the sort of speed and athleticism that reminds you a lot of a younger version of Sean Weatherspoon before he polished his game completely during his final years at Missouri. If Manning can clock a strong 40 time, his stock should jump high.

OLB Jonathan Massaquoi, Troy
He might be a bit more on the Falcons radar because he’s a pass rusher that played end in college. But he’s being projected as a 3-4 linebacker because of his lack of ideal size. But if Massaquoi comes to Indianapolis and tips the scales around 260 and still is able to showcase his athleticism and speed, he might start to gain more traction as a defensive end. Troy has produced a number of good pass rushers over the years (e.g. Osi Umenyiora, Demarcus Ware), and Massaquoi intends to be the next in line.

ILB Mychael Kendricks, California
Drafting an inside linebacker is hopefully not in the cards for the Falcons given this team’s potential to re-sign Curtis Lofton. But if that were not to occur and the Falcons were looking for an eventual replacement, Kendricks might be a guy that comes on their radar. He’s not the biggest guy out there, being listed at around 5’11″ 240, but he’s got excellent straight-line speed and was an adept pass rusher in Cal’s 3-4 scheme. If he clocks a fast 40, he should see his stock rise.

Categories: Draft Central Tags: , ,

Free Agent Focus: Safeties

February 15th, 2012 1 comment

ICON SMI

Thomas DeCoud

The Falcons have two free agents that they have to decide whether to keep or let test the market: starting free safety Thomas DeCoud and utility backup James Sanders. In a perfect world the Falcons probably manage to hang onto both, but given other priorities, it’s possible one or both players slip through the cracks.

DeCoud has been up and down as a Falcon, but he’s generally been solid as the team’s free safety. Sanders was a nice late summer addition because he can play either safety spot, filling in that depth role vacated by Erik Coleman. There was some hope that when Sanders was signed, he could give the Falcons cause to let DeCoud walk if need be. But Sanders did not quite play at that level this year. He was serviceable when asked to fill in, but was not a significant upgrade when he was on the field versus when DeCoud suited up.

New defensive coordinator Mike Nolan will have to make a decision on whether he thinks DeCoud or Sanders can potentially be the quarterback of the secondary in this new scheme. Or he will have to find another option.

One obvious alternative choice would be DaShon Goldson, a player that Nolan drafted in San Francisco. Goldson is coming off a breakout season where he had 6 interceptions. The concern with Goldson is that up until this year, he really was not anything more than an above average player. And any team that is going to pay him will have to determine if his emergence was due to his natural progression and development, or simply because of the introduction of a new scheme by Vic Fangio. If it’s the latter, then there is a buyer’s beware on him.

Outside Goldson, there are few free safeties that jump out for the Falcons to sign. Jim Leonhard (Jets) has a bit of the intangibles that the Falcons probably would want as leader in their secondary, but he’s finished his second straight season on injured reserve and will be 30 in October. His teammate Brodney Pool is a ballhawk, but a bit too one-dimensional as he’s a suspect run defender.

Reggie Nelson is known by head coach Mike Smith, and played well as a rookie in 2007. But in the ensuing years after Smith’s departure, his play dropped off significantly. But he had a nice bounce-back season this past year in Cincinnati. But the issue with Nelson is whether you can count on him to maintain that level of play.

One other player near the top of the list is Tennessee’s Michael Griffin. Griffin has not quite developed into the elite safety the Titans envisioned when they made him their top pick in 2007. But he is a fast, athletic safety that at least offers some upside.

But in truth, there are no obvious upgrades over a player such as DeCoud on the market. When examining their entire bodies of work, nobody’s really stands out above his. This is the classic sort of free agent market where mid-level starting safeties get overpaid. If the Falcons can re-up with DeCoud on a hometown discount, that probably makes the most sense.

If the Falcons lose Sanders and are looking for more of a utility backup, one option out there is Jordan Babineaux, younger brother of Jonathan. Babineaux can play either safety spot as well as nickel cornerback, giving the team options there. But in the end, the Falcons should probably try and keep both DeCoud and Sanders. If they were to prioritize one over the other, then DeCoud is probably the better choice. But if the Falcons are going to want to find a player that is a significant upgrade at free safety, they will need to focus on finding him in the draft.

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