Let me preface this article by noting that the cries of "cut that guy!" are not new to the Falcons or football fans. I'm not trying to make any of you feel bad—except for those of you who should, and you know what you did—but I do want to talk about why it's impractical to cut massive numbers of players.
The most common sentiment I've seen this offseason regarding roster cuts is that the Falcons should cut ties with some combination Stephen Nicholas, Thomas DeCoud, Jason Snelling, Osi Umenyiora, Steven Jackson, Kroy Biermann, Sam Baker, Garrett Reynolds, Mike Johnson, Asante Samuel and sometimes even Roddy White. Sometimes those lists include most of the names I just threw out, as a way to open up gobs of cap space for the Falcons. As much as I sympathize with the "throw the bums out" style of roster management after a 4-12 season, it's not practical.
Consider what happens if you let go of every player on that list except Roddy, to choose the nuclear option. You are not required to find a new starting running back, backup running back, starting left tackle, depth at right guard, depth at tackle, starting defensive end, depth at linebacker, cornerback and starting free safety. You can reasonably fill a few of those holes in one offseason, but given the fact that not every signing and draft pick works out in the best year, you're resigning yourself to downgrades at some positions for these simple reasons:
- There's competition for free agents, so you won't wind up with improvements at all those spots no matter how hard you try;
- You have a limited number of draft picks to work with, and depending on UDFAs to fill depth isn't a reliable way to build a roster
- Biermann utterly baffles me. You'll save, what, $2.5 million by cutting the dude? He can play defensive end or linebacker, he's solid in all phases and Mike Nolan uses him to help disguise his fronts. Is that worth $2.5 million that will go toward a player who won't necessarily be able to replicate that? Rant over.
Can you survive that if you knock it out of the park on your big ticket signings? Damn right. Will your depth suffer as a result? That's a distinct possibility.
Then consider last year. Many of us applauded the Falcons for moving on from Dunta Robinson, Tyson Clabo, John Abraham and others who had seen performances decline to the point where they weren't worth their considerable salaries. It took less than half a season for remorse to kick in there for many as we bemoaned the lack of depth, the fact that the Falcons were relying on so many young players and the consistency those familiar Falcons brought. What, exactly, happens when you purge every veteran you can hit with a rock from Flowery Branch again in 2014?
There will be veterans cut and allowed to walk, as there should be. This team needs new blood and new talent. What they don't need is a bloodletting when there's so little blood to let.