Hopefully in the comings days or weeks, the NFL will be back open for business. And when that happens, we will get a free agency period. It’s no secret that the Falcons will need to make some decisions about their own free agents. Chief among them are their three starters along the offensive line, but also the Falcons will need to also prioritize bringing back Jason Snelling.
Keeping Snelling probably isn’t as hard now as it might have been in March. This past April, 24 running backs (not including fullbacks) were drafted, the most in over a dozen drafts. That means that the market for free agent running backs is much more lukewarm as many teams were able to fill their chief needs at that position with rookies.
That is not going to mean a player like Snelling won’t get any nibbles from other teams looking to sign him. But it is another positive that there are several other bigger-named free agents on the market such as DeAngelo Williams, Ahmad Bradshaw, Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson, and Joseph Addai, so it’s very unlikely any team will be offering Snelling a starter’s role and salary elsewhere.
The decision the Falcons have to make in regards to Snelling is not whether they want him back, but how much are they willing to pay to keep him. For the previously mentioned reasons, Snelling’s market value isn’t going to be huge, so it’s unlikely he’s going to price himself out of Atlanta. Whatever he asks for, the Falcons are likely going to be able to afford. But it all raises a question of what do the Falcons see as Snelling’s future value, and are they going to be willing to pay a premium for it?
As of today, Snelling’s primary value is as a third down back. According to Pro Football Focus, he is one of the best pass catchers among his position group in the league. And he’s also shown that he can be a valuable replacement on the occasions when Michael Turner has been injured over the past two seasons.
However, one wonders how much confidence these spot performances inspire in the Falcons brass? Do they see Snelling as a legit successor to Michael Turner? Do they see him as a future 1000-yard rusher in this league?
The answers to these questions certainly could be used as leverage points for Snelling and his agent when it comes to negotiations. If the answers are yes, then it could mean the difference a several million.