The Falcons have several key free agents and a few more players they would probably like to sign as 2013 free agency opens on Monday. Who is actually going to stay, and who is going to go?
It helps to have access to the whole list, which Spotrac so kindly provides for us. Without further ado, let's break down who I think is staying and going. You may disagree.
TE Tony Gonzalez: Going out on a limb here, but I really think Tony will decide to return on a one-or-two-year, heavily incentivized deal. He's still playing at an extremely high level, the team is exerting a ton of pressure and the team is still poised to make a Super Bowl run this season, assuming they do a good job this off-season. If Tony is happy with the franchise's plans, he'll be back.
TE Michael Palmer: A restricted free agent, and the position lacks a lot of depth. He'll be back.
G Garrett Reynolds: Reynolds was hitting his stride until he got hurt last year. The Falcons have some young players they're intrigued by, but signing Reynolds to a 2-3 year deal to start in 2013 and then transition to useful backup veteran guard and tackle would be a smart move. I think they make it.
LT Sam Baker: He's coming back. He's one of the better tackles left on the open market, the chances of finding a better one are minimal and he knows the system already. I expect this to be done by mid-April, at the latest.
LT Will Svitek: I'm of the opinion that Lamar Holmes is a long-term right tackle, which would leave only Mike Johnson behind Baker. I'm not rock certain on this one, but I think if he comes back with reasonable contract attached, Svitek makes a ton of sense.
DT Vance Walker: An integral part of the line rotation, Walker is 300-plus pounds of pass-rushing fury, and he's a very useful player in a 4-3 or 3-4 as either a DT or potentially a DE. If he won't break the bank, the Falcons need to make him a priority.
CB Robert McClain: Another restricted free agent, McClain played very well last year outside and as a nickel corner. He's coming back.
CB Brent Grimes: Grimes won't command huge money this time around and is likely seeking a multi-year deal after losing parts of the last two seasons to injury. The Falcons will bring him back on a three year deal, I'm predicting, and rock a pretty strong cornerback corps because of it.
S William Moore: Likes Atlanta, Atlanta likes him, should fit under the cap with his injury history. Valuable piece for Mike Nolan's defense. He's coming back.
S Chris Hope: Played well in limited action last year, including a stint as the starter while William Moore was down. He'll likely come reasonably cheap, and the Falcons need veteran depth with Charles Mitchell hanging around as an intriguing but unproven option.
FB Mike Cox: Bradie Ewing had a tough break, missing the entire 2012 season, but the Falcons didn't draft the guy to be a bench fullback. Cox has filled in nicely the last couple of years, but he's heading out.
C Todd McClure: McClure is a consummate professional and one of the all-time great Falcons. He's also declining rapidly and blocking Peter Konz. I hate to even suggest it, because I will always love Mud Duck, but it's time to move on.
DE Lawrence Sidbury: Yeah, I don't think he's coming back.
CB Chris Owens: Owens has a ton of athleticism and can still be an asset at cornerback, but this is a numbers game. The Falcons under this scenario would have Asante Samuel, Brent Grimes, Robert McClain, Peyton Thompson and perhaps Dominique Franks at corner, and a deep cornerback class to take a hard look at. I think Owens will be moving on.
Svitek and Reynolds are the two biggest question marks here, but this is how I expect the off-season to unfold.
Share your predictions in the comments!