There's been some hand-wringing in recent days about the team's ability to get current Minnesota Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards. Basically, the worries boil down to cost of contract and picks if a new CBA should not be finalized, given that the Vikings have tendered him at a first round level.
I'm here to quell those qualms. Given the team's track record of aggressively pursuing the free agents they want and the likelihood that we'll have a new bargaining agreement by the time the season starts, I would consider it a major upset if Edwards wasn't wearing the red and black come September.
After the jump, I'll give you four good reasons why Edwards is very much in the cards for the Falcons. Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments.
The new CBA won't restrict Edwards
I predict with great confidence that the NFL and the artists formerly known as the NFLPA will reach an accord by August. Unfortunately, it's not likely to be well before that, as we discussed last night.
The players are exceedingly unlikely to relent on fifth or sixth year players being restricted free agents, given that it severely damages their earning potential in a sport where many players never even get to a fifth year. The issue also doesn't appear to be a sticking point for the owners, at least at this juncture.
That means that Edwards would be an unrestricted free agent able to sign with any team that wants him. No first round pick surrendered in this scenario, which is more than a mild relief.
Ray Edwards is done in Minnesota
Edwards is unhappy with the first round tender and unhappy that former backup Brian Robison may get a chance to start outside instead of him. That unhappiness with the team is likely to get Edwards at least considering offers from other teams when free agency comes, and the Vikings may not be keen to dole out a lot of money for an unhappy guy when they have someone they believe could be in the mix to start behind him.
I would say the Vikings are being reasonable on that front, but it certainly doesn't hurt those teams that are eyeing Edwards.
The Falcons are in a great position
Let's see...top seed in the NFC in 2010. Recognized as one of the best franchises to play for in the NFL today. Have loads of cap room and a willingness to offer him a lot of snaps, plus a fanbase that is eager to welcome a stud pass rusher.
The Falcons have also shown they'll go above and beyond for players they want, and rumor is they plan to practically stalk Edwards once free agency starts. It worked on Michael Turner and Dunta Robinson.
Edwards is a good fit for the Falcons
Still just 26 years old, Edwards is a hard-working player with good production, having notched 8 and 8.5 sacks the last two seasons. Disturbing pictures from Ball Hawk aside—and no, I'm not linking those—Edwards seems like exactly the kind of player the Falcons should be going after.
At minimum, he'll be a hugely effective rusher in a defensive end rotation. He's got a chance to be more than that.