I read James's "Do we need a FA LB" thread from last night, and a few things stuck out to me.
First, I'll admit I didn't read every comment word for word, but I'm pretty sure there wasn't a single soul that mentioned Stephen Nicholas. Shame on all of you!
Second, since we have three fine DBs and two fine safeties, we'll be in the nickel package more than usual. That means we'll probably run the classic 4-2-5, where our MLB won't even be on the field. That leaves Spoon and Nicks, who are probably more of a guaranteed pass coverage threat than Tatupu was pre-injury. We didn't and don't know what we'll get out of Tatupu, especially now that he's hurt.
I would expect Spoon to never leave the field and, since we believe Dent is a run-stopper, he'll be a 2-down linebacker initially anyway.
Third, Nolan has said we'll dabble in the 3-4, but even if we do, I don't see where we'd use a fourth LB anyway. It would probably be Spoon-Dent-Nicks-Biermann, even if Tatupu was available. Spoon can get after the passer, and Biermann can be that big, angry DE/LB that everyone likes.
All told, I think our best defense is probably the nickel. We'd be doing ourselves a huge disservice not to have Dunta/Grimes/Asante on the field as much as possible. That leaves us with the usual suspects at the remaining positions: Spoon, Nicks, Abe/Edwards, Peters, Babs, and Biermann. Of course, some of the younger guys could take over at the end position, which would only be good news if they earned it.
Even with Tatupu, there was no guarantee he was going to be any good. Our LB depth past him and Dent isn't good anyway, and since we're likely to work in the nickel a good bit, we may not need anyone other than a Spencer Adkins or Robert James. If either Spoon or Nicks go down, we're probably screwed regardless of who we sign.
Spoon would probably adamantly refuse to leave the field, and Dent and Nicks can be interchangeable in the other LB spot.
I'm not so sure we need a special LB. The ones we have already know the system, and we haven't heard definitively on Tatupu yet (to my knowledge). I think we could survive without signing the biggest or best LB name out there.
Just my two cents, fellow Falcoholics.