D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is a tenacious reporter, one who generally has a good pulse on what's going on in the world of the Atlanta Falcons. That said, I think he's off on a couple of points in one of his latest articles.
In speculating on the future of some of the most high profile free agents the Falcons are looking to re-sign this winter, Ledbetter makes some educated guesses about who stays and who goes. It's about a 50/50 split in his mind, but I'm not convinced he's got the right guys for every one. In the interest of a debate, I'm going to underline where I disagree.
After the jump, quick blurbs on free agents, starting with the one I view as most important.
Justin Blalock: DOL is convinced that Blalock is going to get a fat contract from someone else. I think that as the youngest of the three free agent offensive linemen, he's the guy who will be the priority for the Falcons. He's also a generally excellent guard who plays on Matt Ryan's blind side. I'm not saying Blalock won't leave, but I view him as the team's highest OL priority. He signs.
Harvey Dahl: DOL says he re-signs. I like Dahl, but he's older and less disciplined than Blalock and is still going to command substantial money this off-season. If the team can only keep one guard, I think it's going to be Blalock. Dahl goes.
Tyson Clabo: DOL thinks Clabo is leaving. I'm still not exactly sure where I stand on his status with the team. It's going to depend on how much cap space the Falcons have and whether they believe Garrett Reynolds or Jose Valdez is ready to step in. 50/50
Matt Bryant: I'm with DOL on this one. Bryant will be coming back for another year or two to handle kicking duties for the Falcons. He stays, but...
Michael Koenen: There's sharp disagreement on Koenen's value, but DOL is right here. With Matt Bosher on board and Koenen's production sliding, Koenen's going to play elsewhere in 2011. He leaves.
Brent Grimes: He's a restricted free agent, so it's not a worry for this season...but the Falcons are re-signing Grimes. Put a stamp on it and lick the envelope.
Stephen Nicholas: A great backup linebacker with a ton of versatility, Nicholas will be in demand in the free agent market. I'm not entirely convinced that Nickles is coming back to the Falcons, but DOL is a believer. He's more than likely gone.
Mike Peterson: Sure, he's creaky. But it's a good kind of creaky. The Falcons like his leadership and his ability against the run. He's coming back.
Eric Weems: A tough call in a way, because the new punt return rules mean he'll automatically have a little less value. But his special teams skills are useful, and he's got some kind of potential as a wide receiver. I think he stays.
Jerious Norwood: I'm on record in at five least different posts predicting that Norwood was going to be gone. I agree with DOL.
Jason Snelling: On one level, I agree that Snelling is valuable and versatile for the Falcons. On the other hand, I think he'll be pretty popular out on the open market. I'm going to chicken out and put the odds at 50/50.