One thread running through this off-season has become evident to me: There's a strong core of Falcons fans are reluctant to spend big bucks this off-season.
It's come up multiple times. Fans have been unhappy with the franchise tag on Brent Grimes. They don't want too much money spent on Carl Nicks. They're not necessarily on board with getting Mario Williams. Given the protestations of past off-seasons, when fans lamented the Falcons not managing to get a big basket of millions to Charles Johnson, this seems more than a little odd.
I think it has a lot to do with the relative success of the last couple of big-name free agents the Falcons signed and our perception of them. In 2010, the Falcons paid big money to free agent cornerback Dunta Robinson. Two years later, that contract looks like a terrible decision, as Robinson was roundly criticized for both his coverage and tackling by fans, armchair analysts and the folks at Pro Football Focus, among others.The Falcons owe him about $6 million in 2012 and are hoping for a bounce-back season with Mike Nolan.
Unfortunately, 2011 brought more of the same. The Falcons got defensive end Ray Edwards for a relatively sane price, but he did little to help the pass rush last season. He was an elite run defender, but that's not what we expected from him and, in many cases, cared about.
So now we're here in 2012, and I suspect that many of us are feeling fatigue with big-name free agents who come to the Falcons and play shaky football. I can understand that sentiment.
However, I would urge you to re-consider that stance if it means getting a Mario Williams or an elite offensive lineman. A guy like Super Mario or Carl Nicks only becomes available once in a great while, as they're both Top 3 at their respective positions and are in the prime of their careers at age 27. Signing them would instantly upgrade the two units most in need of upgrading, and the Falcons probably have the cap space to get it done. Why pass?
I fully expect the Falcons to attempt to make one big splash in free agency, because the status quo isn't going to get the Falcons deep into the playoffs. If this team can make the right splash and leave them enough room to sign a middle-of-the-road free agent or two to fill holes and pay for draft picks, I'm 100% on board.
If you're not, let's discuss it. Just my opinion, after all.