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Does Sean Weatherspoon Have A Future With The Falcons?

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The Falcoholic believes 'Spoon will return, albeit on a short contract.

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

If you want to understand what Sean Weatherspoon once meant to this franchise, think back to the 2011 season. That was the last year 'Spoon played a full 16 games, a year where he had 115 tackles, 4 sacks, 8 pass deflections and generally excelled as one of the team's best defenders. It wasn't hard to imagine that Weatherspoon would continue to grow and potentially roll through the next several years as Atlanta's best linebacker since Jessie Tuggle.

That didn't happen, and that version of 'Spoon may be lost to time. He's played just 20 regular season games over the last three seasons, and he'll head into his age-27 season with a million question marks. Critically, he's coming off his second major injury in two years, and his contract has expired, leaving him in limbo.

Weatherspoon may not have been "elite,", but he was a very good player and easily the best linebacker in Atlanta, an aggressive defender with a balanced skill set who dwarfed their other options once Curtis Lofton left. The Falcons head into the 2015 season with a new head coach looming and a linebacking corps that is heavy on youth and short on proven, above average contributors. You can certainly look at Paul Worrilow, Joplo Bartu, Prince Shembo, Marquis Spruill, Tyler Starr and Jacques Smith and talk yourself into the potential, but that unit badly needs a veteran to stabilize it.

If he's healthy, Weatherspoon could still be that player. He's relatively young, he has a valuable skill set (he can cover guys, sometimes!) and he's always been a vocal leader for this team. I'm not anticipating he'll be as good as he was back in 2011, but given the state of the linebacking corps, he could be at the very least a valuable reserve if he heals up.

The Falcons would be wise to see if they can bring 'Spoon back on a relatively team-friendly deal that spans a year or two. That would give 'Spoon a chance to rehabilitate his value—if Corey Peters had to settle for close to the veteran minimum, Weatherspoon will after two largely lost seasons—and come out for a big contract from Atlanta or another team in 2015 or 2016. In return, the Falcons get to keep a guy who has the potential to be easily their best linebacker again in the upcoming year for a fraction of the going rate, and we may get to see the spoon celebration once more. You can't put a price on that.

Are you in favor of bringing back 'Spoon?