But outside of those big names, there were games won on the fleet feet of Eric Weems, the sharp eyes of Brent Grimes and the booming leg of Matt Bryant. These are the names that shine a little less brightly, but their contributions are essential to the Falcons. All three of those guys also happen to be free agents.
Ray Glier over at FanHouse has a great point. The Falcons have only been as good as their depth and their ability to cultivate talent, and now is not the time to let terrific players like Grimes and Weems walk away from Atlanta. It's not that I doubt that Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith could find quality replacements for them, but that they could do so and have them ready to contribute immediately. The NFL is a league where you're expected to land on your feet, but the Falcons believe in nurture more than nature. Guys like Spencer Adkins and Lawrence Sidbury are living proof of that patient approach.
So why undo all the good work? Keep guys like Matt Bryant, as long as his leg is still firmly attached to the rest of his body, because he provides the kind of veteran stability the Falcons have been craving at kicker. Keep guys like Weems, who is capable of breaking the game open and fills an important niche. And by the football gods, keep guys like Brent Grimes, who are absolutely invaluable to a defense still breaking out of the eggshell of mediocrity.
It's going to cost money, but it would cost money to sign their replacements. Keeping the team's valuable commodities in Atlanta is worth every dime.