As I'm sure you heard, the Saints
are dirty cheaters with fans who have bad teeth somehow managed to sign Jairus Byrd. They overpaid for him, doling out a record setting six-year, $54 million contract. Meanwhile, several other safeties quickly found gainful employment.
If you had your heart set on Mike Mitchell, Donte Whitner, T.J. Ward, Malcolm Jenkins, or Antoine Bethea, then go cry in a corner, because it's not happening. All of the aforementioned players have signed, some netting very lucrative contracts. So aside from the dearth of remaining safety talent in free agency, the market itself is disturbingly inflated. Great.
So what are the Falcons options?
Former 5th round draft pick, has started every game for the Dolphins over the last two seasons. He's 28, thus there's still plenty in the tank. His strength is coverage, which is obviously ideal when you're looking for a free safety. He struggles mightily against the run; his PFF rating in 2013 was -3.6 or 72/86 safeties. Another big knock on him is his tackling. If that induces "been there, done that!" sentiment, then you're not alone. He can probably be had for between $4-6 million a year.
I know what you're thinking, "he's not a free safety!" I know that. But with the William Moore to free safety sentiment flying around like crackhead pigeons, I'm including him. Ihedigbo doesn't cover well [insert feigned shock], except when he's playing against Andy Dalton (all three of his interceptions last season came against Dalton). To be honest, he wasn't even expected to start last season, and the Ravens basically told him he'd have to come back as a special teams player. He'd probably be a fairly cheap addition.
He's old. Like old enough to run for President. Notwithstanding his age, he had over 100 tackles last season and picked off 2 passes. He's got a visit with the Redskins coming up, setting up a potential return to the team he played for between 2004-2005.
In short, there aren't very many remaining options. The Falcons pretty much three options - that's it. Either (1) sign Clemons; (2) draft a free safety; and (3) do some creative shuffling with internal and/or external options. Option 3 would basically entail putting a player, either an existing Falcon or one that could be added in free agency, at his non-natural position. Yikes. Drafting a safety, in my mind, is probably the best of the three less-than-ideal options.