Disclaimer: I have no idea how this, my first attempt at a FanPost, will end up looking on The Falcoholic. Here's hoping everything turns out alright...
Here in the dead center of February, NFL-related sites, shows and blogs are stuck speculating about the future of every team in the league. Here on The Falcoholic, we are stuck speculating about the future, moreover the next few months, of the Atlanta Falcons... day in and day out.
The oft-referenced NFL Free Agency period begins 4 p.m. ET on March 11th. Prior to this time, all teams must be under the salary cap, made their offers to their restricted free agents, and exercised their 2014 options for selected players on the roster.
As should also be mentioned, teams may have contact for contract negotiations with all unrestricted free agents beginning three days prior, on March 8th. Once the clock hits 4 on the 11th, all unrestricted free agents are open to accept any offer from any teams.
There are plenty of free agents talked about here on The Falcoholic, and among the many referenced are names like FS Jairus Byrd, FS Chris Clemons, DT Linval Joseph, DT Paul Soliai, DE Michael Johnson, DE Michael Bennett, OLB Brian Orakpo, G Rodger Saffold and G Jon Asamoah.
What free agents Atlanta targets all depends on the overarching plan.... and the draft. More on that later.
Does Dimitroff want to expand upon his previous attempt to become a high-powered, high-flying offense? Does he want to focus on becoming a dominant force in the trenches? Build a front seven to be reckoned with? A Seattle-like secondary? These are all worthy questions, the answers to which will shape the Atlanta Falcons' future more so than any offseason before (besides 2008's, obviously).
This is what we do know: The Falcons have a $100M not elite yet quarterback, one of the best wide receiver duos of the last decade, an offensive line in shambles, a youthful, underperforming front seven, and a promising young secondary
The plan... the plan of what happens here is what will determine everything.
In the most general sense, there are three first-round options with which Falcoholics tend to align themselves. These are:
- Trade up, using our 2015 first-rounder or a variety of other combinations, and draft "the most impactful defensive player to come out in years," Jadeveon Clowney.
- Stand pat at Pick #6 and take 1) the "plug him in for a decade and forget about him (until his contract rolls around)" offensive tackle in Jake Matthews; 2) the versatile, polished mauler mountain of a man in Greg Robinson; or 3) the all-around great outside linebacker that excels at getting to the passer in Khalil Mack.
- Trade down to the teens and grab an extra second rounder along with 1) a defensive tackle, most notably, Ra'shede Hageman or Aaron Donald, to plug into the middle of and bolster our middling defensive line; 2) offensive line help in the form of Zack Martin or Taylor Lewan; 3) some athletic edge-rusher in Kony Ealy or Anthony Barr.
There is a large argument to be made for all three options. What isn't debatable is that our movements--or lack thereof--and picks must come hand in hand with our free agent signings and resignings, which will all correspond with the overarching plan.
The idea is simple, in theory: If you're going to sign an expensive, name-brand player in free agency, look to the draft to fill your other needs -- don't also spend your top pick on a player with a similar skillset. The grey area comes when you have a dire need for a position, boatloads of cash to spend and a top pick -- do you double down and perhaps get twice the production? What about the other needs on your team? What if they both bust?... make the wrong decision and you are left with a future as bleak as the perennial losers of the last decade.
These are the types of questions that go through Thomas Dimitroff's head on a minutely basis, I assure you. Hopefully, he makes the right choice for the sake of us all.
So, what say you? What are the choices you would make, put into Comrade's situtation?