With the Falcons
just sort of sitting there, lazily drinking lemonade waiting out the market, it's time to take a look back at what they've been able to accomplish thus far.
A quick note: These grades are solely my own, based on what we know of the contracts, situations and roles of these players. I also have a few non-player grades to hand out, as you'll see. Let's jump in.
William Moore, A: Arguably the biggest signing of the off-season thus far. Moore has an injury history, but he's one of the five best strong safeties in the NFL when he's healthy, and one of the few current Falcon defenders who does most everyone well. Getting him on a pretty reasonable deal was part market forces, part coup.
Steven Jackson, B+: The argument against this move boils down to this: Shouldn't the team spend its free agent dollars on defense? That's a valid point and one I don't disagree with, but there's something to be said for an elite offense. Paying only $12 million over 3 years, with just $4 million guaranteed, is pretty sweet.
The Falcons aren't done on D just yet, but it's reasonable to assume they're going to field a young, mobile defense with morphing fronts that should be a little above average. Pair that with an elite offense—and make no mistake, S-Jax fits the O to a T—and here you are.
Sam Baker, B: The dollars here are reasonable, and the Falcons could comfortably cut ties with Baker if he falls off again over the next couple of years. In a thin left tackle market, he was the best thing still going. I don't love the six years for a player with only one really good year, though, so I have to knock it down a bit.
Garrett Reynolds, A-: Very little downside here. When healthy last year, Reynolds was an effective starter at right guard. Even if he's not quite there again, the Falcons reportedly got him cheap, giving them a quality backup on the right side at minimum.
Tony Gonzalez, A: Unless the guy's asking for $10 million, bringing back one of the most effective tight ends ever for another year is a great move. The middle of the field will continue to be Gonzalez's for the foreseeable future, and the Falcons will once again field a potent offense.
Peter Konz, C: The C is for center!
Obviously Todd McClure's retirement is bittersweet news, but the Falcons have an arguable upgrade on the roster already. Konz kicking over to his natural position in his second season could help to shore up the middle of the line, which struggled at times with Konz at right guard.
Antone Smith, B-: He's a core special teamer. He's cheap. He's on the team for a while longer.
The Front Office, INC: I think it's important to realize that the Falcons came into the off-season needing to lock up their own guys and lacking cap space. They've managed to do all of the above and still have enough left to land a defensive end or a running back, if they wish, and maybe even bring back Vance Walker and Brent Grimes.
There's a lot of time left. The Falcons could certainly blow this, but there's no reason given their track record to think they're going to ruin the off-season. There's also no reason to think that they're going to land a big-name, game-changing free agent or blow us all out of the water. They're likely to have a workmanlike off-season from here on out, hopefully making a couple of judicious upgrades and then what we can all only hope is a quality draft.
It's an incomplete. Don't expect me to fail them or fete them after three days.