It seems to be a well-accepted fact that the Falcons will be fairly active in the FA market this off-season.
The most common positions being bantered about are: FS, DT, and RG. There are also the possibilities of DE, LB, and RT...let's face it, there are holes. The OL has to be better. The DL has to better. And quite frankly, the draft has not been a great source for the Falcons of opening day, impact starters. Quite frankly, if the Falcons successfully fill two of the above-mentioned holes with starters through the draft, then I will be a very happy fan.
So...what will the Falcons do in Free Agency?! Seriously, I am dying to know. I would be so excited if the FO was aggressive after March 11. In the first few days, they could grab a pair of starters to solidify the roster and make Falcon fans grin from ear to ear.
But you know what? That really does not seem like the FO's style. In fact, I would be kinda stunned if they hit the FAs hard in pre-draft March. "Hey!" you shout. "But if they wait, then all the good players will be signed by other teams!"
Umm...yes and no. I would agree that FS Byrd types will be off the market by March 18th, but do you know who will still be available later? (crickets chirping) Yeah, I don't know exactly who will be available in the FA market come June, but there will be some very solid players to be had at a good price. The reason is the Cap.
Right now, there are nine teams over the Cap, plus another six with fewer than $3M to spare under the Cap...and that is the March 11 Cap for 51 players. The real Cap for next year includes all 53 plus practice squad and IR, not to mention dead money.
That means that a lot of teams are going to have to cut a lot of players in order to make it under the Cap. In fact, the Cowboys could cut their lowest 10 paid players that they currently have under contract and still be $20M over the Cap. (Kirwan, CBS Sports)
Now agreed, lots of these cuts will happen prior to March 11 and will be part of the mid-March FA frenzy of signings...but a lot of them won't. Many of them will be in May...or June...even into August.
One really nice part about late FA signings is: you don't get forced into a bad draft pick. It happens all too often that a team panics when their position of need goes on a run and they end up reaching for a guy who turns out to be a bust. Well, knowing that there is still a chance at more FAs later in the year allows a team to focus on drafting Best Available.
I am more than a little bit certain that these "late" FAs are some of the FAs that the Falcon FO will try to snag when the time is right. The crazy thing is, no one knows who and no one knows when.
Gotta love it!