As promised, here's me breaking down the Falcons' top free agent choices into tasty, bite-sized morsels. If you chew them over carefully, you can actually taste the money we're going to be throwing at them. Delicious, I say.
A word of caution about this. Unlike the AJC's D. Orlando Ledbetter, I'm not looking for the biggest name guys out there. I'm looking at reasonably young, talented dudes who have a chance to be part of the Falcons' full scale overhaul. Keep that in mind as you read this.
OL David Stewart, Restricted/Titans: The Titans are wooing this massive tackle, a 25 year-old mauler who would instantly transform our line into something vaguely resembling respectable. The team could easily line he and Clabo up at either end and call that part of the rebuilding effort done. As Hamburger notes, he's a tough kid, and I'll add that he's not just a blob of jelly. He has good footwork and terrific instincts, and his Rotoworld photo makes him look like he's contemplating eating you.
The big drawback here is that Stewart has already been tendered by the Titans for a first round pick. The Falcons brass would have to think long and hard about how much Stewart is actually worth, but if the team could finagle a first round pick for Hall and turn it into a promising tackle, I'd sign off on it.
Reasonable Alternative: Rex Hadnot (C), Trai Essex (T)
Madieu Williams, S, Unrestricted: Frankly, Madieu, I don't give a damn! Ha ha! Hilarious, right?
...Hey, screw you guys.
The 26 year old safety is not known as the hardest hitter in the world, but his coverage skills are pretty damn good. Given Crocker and Milloy's efforts these last two seasons, he couldn't help but be an upgrade. He's still young enough to turn into a harder hitter, too, though I wouldn't count on that. He'd be a nice complement to the freakishly athletic Daren Stone, if the team was wise enough to give the UMaine product a chance. The Vikings are currently high on Madieu, but I see no reason why the Falcons couldn't get him for a fairly reasonable price. I'd like this signing quite a bit.
Reasonable Alternative: Gibril Wilson.
Michael Turner, RB, Unrestricted I can only speculate that the Falcons are freeing up a ton of cap space in order to land at least one big fish, and there's none bigger than Turner. If you can imagine a more deadly tandem than Norwood's blazing speed and Turner's face-crushing power, it probably involves Darren McFadden and his three potential running back children. But I digress.
Turner will not come cheap, which makes him a bit risky. He's shown that he's reasonably durable and has a lot of talent, but there are legitimate questions about how he'll handle a full workload. Splitting carries with Norwood likely isn't his first priority, but it would make both of them more effective. If the Falcons have to bite the bullet on signing one guy, Turner wouldn't be a bad choice.
Reasonable Alternative: Julius Jones, Derrick Ward, Cecil Sapp
D.J. Hackett, WR, Unrestricted: In the interest of full disclosure, I have an epic man crush on Hackett. Injuries are a very, very large concern given his last season, but he's a bit, rangy receiver with surprising speed and excellent hands. He and Roddy would make the QB transition a lot easier, but he also isn't likely to come cheap. Still, if the Falcons can't chase down Turner, Hackett would be more than worth a shot.
He's still only 26, too.
Reasonable Alternative: Bryant Johnson, Ernest Wilford
Colin Cole, DT, Restricted/Packers: Who, you say? I say a 27 year old reserve for the tackle-deep Packers who could probably step into a starting role for us. He's very good against the run and only decent against the pass, but we have two supposedly talented pass rushing ends to make up for that. I think the Falcons would be glad they got Cole, but the second round tender is a little rich. Still, the Falcons are rolling the dice on this position whether they go free agency, trade or draft (short of Ellis or Dorsey), so it might be worth it.
Reasonable Alternative: Not a lot out there that are young and reasonably inexpensive.
Any others you'd like to see on this list?