Don Banks discussed the ramifications of the 80-man roster limit in this most recent article on SI.com. It’s a good read, and while it may seem rather trivial to the casual fan, it does have perhaps significant ramifications for all teams and the Falcons in particular.
By my current count, the Falcons have 91 players on their roster, which includes their 11 draft picks. So that means, that for each draft pick that is signed, the Falcons will have to release a player currently on the team. Obviously, that’s 11 current players on this roster that won’t have opportunities to compete for jobs, thus watering down competition during the summer, and weakening potential depth. It also means that the Falcons may stall negotiations with their rookies a bit until they can get good long looks at everybody currently on the roster.
Obviously, we know of many of the undrafted stars that have come into the league over the past several years: Tony Romo, Willie Parker, Jeff Saturday, Antonio Gates, Kurt Warner, Rod Smith, etc. It’s possible that one of the 11 players the Falcons are forced to release between now and late July could be one of those guys.
Banks also rights about how inexperienced coaches might have difficulty managing the roster, particularly when it comes to injuries that inevitably occur during training camp. Obviously, that has real world resonance for us, since Mike Smith is a first-time head coach. Also it means that the Falcons may be cutting good players this summer simply because they are hurt. In past years, being injured and missing one or two weeks of practice was an obstacle, but one that could be overcome. Now, it may not be.
My expectation in looking over the roster is that the 11 guys that will be inevitably dumped will be from the offensive and defensive lines, as well as the secondary. Those are the three areas I think most Falcon fans would agree represent are the bigger question marks on the team and where competition is really needed to filter out the good from bad.
Hopefully all goes well. And while the tough decisions that will need to be made in July and August won’t necessarily doom the Falcons season, it certainly can cause quite a bit of subtle damage.