I said many times yesterday that this is likely to get ugly. What I didn't mean to imply is that doomsday is upon us.
The smart money is on the Falcons and Brent Grimes working out a long-term deal. That's not going to happen overnight, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if Grimes misses a few off-season workouts. But the tag is there and ultimately, I think both parties will come to the table and get Optimus back in the red and black by the end of the off-season. It's the most logical thing.
My advice, then, is not to wring your hands over this until a few months have passed. There will be posturing on both sides, there may be some holding out and there will certainly be leaked dirt for both. That's part of the negotiation process. Ultimately, I expect Grimes to return on a three-to-four year deal that will pay him well, but less than the $10+ million he'd be getting with the franchise tag.
He'll return as the team's top cover cornerback, as I mentioned yesterday, and the Falcons will have a little flexibility with him back. If you want pure speed and ballhawking ability on the field, throw Grimes and Owens out there and slide Dunta Robinson or Dominique Franks in the slot. You can do the reverse if you want physicality and size outside. I like the looks the team will be able to give offenses with Mike Nolan helming the D, and Grimes should get his share of picks in 2012.
There's always the possibility that this goes south somewhere along the line, but for now, buckle up for a couple months of nothing. Let the negotiations play out and think we'll all find something be happy about.