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Don't Expect The Falcons To Franchise Brent Grimes

One of the great debates of the 2012 off-season is the future of Brent Grimes. Almost no one denies that he's an excellent cornerback and a good dude. What we all want to know is whether the Falcons will retain him or he'll walk.

I'm responding directly to the talented Jamie Kelly at Blogging Dirty, who made the argument that Grimes is the only Falcon deserving of the tag and that the Falcons should/probably will use the $10.6 million franchise tag on Grimey. I have disagreements with both those points, but more so with the latter than the former. Still, you need to go read Jamie's post, because it's a thoughtful argument for Grimey.

Here's where Kelly and I differ.

  • I think $10.6 million is a lot to tie up in a cornerback, particularly when you're paying Dunta Robinson almost $6 million. I know that Grimes is more deserving of that money, but when you have some young talent at the position, tying up nearly $17 million in two dudes isn't necessarily the best use of your cap space.
  • Brent Grimes is due for—and in my mind, will be gunning for—a big payday. Put yourselves in Grimes' shoes for a moment. He's a young father and husband who has busted his ass to go from Shippensburg to Atlanta, and once there, to go from a practice squad player to one of the best zone cover cornerbacks in the NFL. For all that work, he's repeatedly been denied a lucrative long-term deal from Atlanta for reasons that make sense from the front office perspective but have to rankle for Grimey. This is the first time he's truly been an unrestricted free agent, he's in the prime of his career and he wants to land a big deal that will take care of him for the rest of his life.

    Given that, do you really think he'll be happy to take a one-year tender? I seriously doubt it. Couple that with the rumors swirling around earlier this off-season and the Falcons have to be thinking long and hard about using the tag on a guy who may not want to return to Atlanta and certainly will not want to return for anything less than a long-term deal. If they don't use the tag, though, they have to know there's a good chance a team like the Buccaneers will outbid them. It's a tough situation.
  • We don't know how well Grimes will fare in Mike Nolan's defense, which will probably feature more aggressive scheming and a heavier lean toward man coverage. I think he'd be fine, personally, but he may be slightly less effective and that might give the Falcons pause.
  • The Falcons just don't use the franchise tag under Thomas Dimitroff. It's a potent cap hit to take for a single year for almost any player, and $10.6 million is a lot to put into a corner. Unless they believe they literally cannot afford to lose Grimes, I can't see them bucking that trend.

I truly hope the Falcons find a way to retain Grimes, because he's one of my favorite players and he's been an incredible cornerback for the last few years. But I have a feeling if they do, it won't be by using the franchise tag.

What do you all think?