Teams with major holes on their rosters may find it virtually impossible to address all of them in 2011, should free agency be dead in the water. A prolonged lockout could certainly mean a reduced or nonexistent signing season, which would leave potential free agents counting on big paydays stuck with their teams for another season.
What it wouldn't do is harm the Falcons. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Mark Bradley wrote on Friday, the team is uniquely well-positioned to weather a lack of free agency. First, they'd get to keep their quality offensive line intact. Second, they rarely make more than one sizable splash in free agency to begin with. Third, their roster is deep, young and should only get better with time.
Are there guys out there the Falcons would like to get their hands on when free agency opens up? Absolutely. But they went 13-3 with the current roster, and the NFL Draft is still all systems go. In case you haven't noticed, Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith have crafted the bulk of this team primarily through the magic of drafting.
Ironically, the other kind of team that stands to benefit is the type with tons of impending free agents. So yes, the Falcons will probably be struggling to fend off the Saints for one more season. Alas.
But what the Falcons are doing is a recipe for success when everything's normal, and as Bradley notes, it may make a huge difference if a labor stoppage screws everything up. Let's hope for a great draft either way.