Happy Saturday, everybody! We'll have an NFL Combine open thread for you this afternoon, because there will be plenty to talk about there.
Before we get to that, I wanted to take a moment to pore over something Thomas Dimitroff said yesterday while talking to D. Orlando Ledbetter and other assorted sundry media. It was basically the standard free agency and draft boilerplate, but there was one passage I found illuminating. Apologies for going back to the well on this one after James did last night, but I wanted to highlight this:
Well, this is a very big free agency class. It’s a situation, where if people really like that we’re going back to having free agency before the draft and categorically I would say that we do. It allows us to make moves in free agency and it takes the stress over the precariousness of how the draft is going to land. I think that is an aspect of team building that I would suggest most of us as coaches, general managers and team builders, would believe that is very beneficial for us. I do believe there is going to be a lot of movement because of the sheer numbers of this years class.
This is a very obtuse way of saying that the team will be active in free agency this year, which is nothing less than I'd expect from the Comrade. Lacking a first round pick and looking at a class that will include quality offensive linemen like Ben Grubbs and Carl Nicks, receivers like Mario Manningham and Robert Meachem and pass rushers like Mario Williams and Robert Mathis, there's no reason to avoid it, unless you're really reluctant to fill up that cap room.
I fully expect the Falcons to upgrade the line and the pass rush through free agency, saving those draft picks for another offensive playmaker or patching holes opened up by the departures of any in-house free agents. If this team is serious about contending again in 2012 with a re-built coaching staff and at least one or two key players leaving, they'll have to be working in free agency.