With Matt Bryant making it rain field goals every Sunday and Matt Bosher booting punts like he has a gunpowder-loaded leg, the Falcons' special teams was more or less a strength in 2012. I say more or less because Dominique Franks was returning punts.
We've spent a lot of time kicking Franks while he's down, but i'd like to move on to discussing the options to replace him at punt returner. The Falcons have more than one player in-house and more than one option outside of that to handle punt duties.
Without further ado, here's a few potential options:
The Falcons aren't cutting Douglas, and he does have quality speed and agility. During limited chances at the end of the season and in the playoffs, he looked like a good option.
The only issue here is that if the Falcons want to expose Douglas to more snaps in the passing game, they may not want to tire him out or risk injury as a punt returner. That's a relatively minor issue, though, and Douglas looks like the likeliest option for a team that likes versatility.
2012 Average: 8.4 per punt return, but only four returns
Cribbs is still one of the league's best returners, and the Browns seem likely to release him this off-season. Cribbs might be a little more expensive than your average returner, but he could also free up Jacquizz Rodgers to concentrate on his running back duties. If the Falcons wanted to go outside for their returner, he's the best option, period.
2012 Average: 12.0 per punt return
Another potential release from the 49ers, Ginn has traditionally been a solid returner and would likely come cheap. He could also help out at receiver in a pinch, though teams trying to get a lot out of him in that arena haven't been pleased in the past.
2012 Average: 10.2 per punt return
There's plenty of electrifying rookies in this year's class, Marquise Goodwin is insanely fast and looks like a promising if smallish wide receiver, while there's more than a couple of running backs who can probably handle the duties as well. You just don't know exactly what you're getting here until you get a guy fielding punts in training camp.
Add your own potential options right here, if you would.