I don't think it was the tag itself that pissed off Grimes. What players hate is when teams tag a guy, but then make minimal effort to get a long-term deal done. It's very frustrating when on the open market you could potentially get $20-30 million guaranteed in $$$, but you're stuck with a tag that only guarantees $10 million, and you're losing
a year. That coupled with the fact that the team traded for Asante, gave him $18 million (over 3 yrs), a player that wasn't on the team (and thus was a riskier investment) and was 2.5 years older probably didn't help things either. I think by the time 2012 rolled around, Grimes camp were pretty confident that they would depart Atlanta.
Falcons "sources" leaked that the team thought Grimes was going to be too expensive shortly after the Giant Fiasco. Again, the problem wasn't no
Consider this, what if we had given in to his contract demands and then he got hurt. You can bet your butt that people would be quite upset with TD for signing him to big money and then him getting hurt.
And people are stupid. Only fools think an injury makes a trade (*ahem*) or a free agent signing is a bad decision retroactively because of an injury. That's like saying that because you later get into a car accident, buying that new car wasn't a good decision. Or the very fact that driving isn't a good decision. There are inherent risks in driving a car, just like there are inherent risks in the game of football. Sure, there are some players that are significant injury risks than others (Tatupu, Jerry, Overstreet, etc.) and thus you must mitigate your investment in them. Ed Hartwell wasn't a bad signing because he was constantly hurt. Ed Hartwell was a bad signing because he was purely a 2-down run defender made at the point when the league was truly transitioning to a pass-first league and wasn't overly effective in that role when he did make appearances on the field.
This is the same silly argument that people made why you shouldn't give Matt Ryan a contract extension before this year. You should wait, because he might get hurt. The injury risk never goes away people!
The Falcons had the opportunity after the lockout to give Grimes a long-term deal when he was a restricted free agent. They chose not and his price went up because he was even better in 2011 than he was in 2010 (and don't let fun gus claim otherwise).
But the simple truth is this (at least as I see it). The real reason why Brent Grimes is not a Falcon is because of Dunta Robinson. The Falcons made the mistake of overpaying Robinson to be the #1 corner. Then Grimes emerged as the true #1 corner. And because the Falcons were trying to be "fiscally responsible" they decided they could not afford 2 $50 million cornerbacks on the roster. And ultimately they chose to go with the investment they had previously made (and kept Robinson for the 2012 season rather than outright cutting him).
But honestly, I get why the Falcons didn't re-sign Grimes. I'm a little bitter about it, but I understand why it happened. Just don't quite by the implications that the Falcons really didn't have the option to keep him. That definitely was an option, the Falcons just didn't take advantage of it. They had 2 years to get a deal done, they didn't.
It's going to be a similar situation next March when they have the option of cutting Sam Baker and Thomas DeCoud, or the option currently of cutting Stephen Nicholas.