With interviews to secure the Falcons' next head coach underway, it's also time to consider what changes may come to Atlanta's roster for the coming season. Let's start by considering which players are hitting free agency, whether restricted, exclusive-rights restricted, or unrestricted, in 2015.
Exclusive Rights Free Agents
I'm not even sure why this designation has the words "Free Agent" in the name, because these guys aren't really free agents at all. These are players with two or fewer accrued seasons, and if their team tenders them (typically with a one-year veteran minimum contract that is not guaranteed), the only freedom they really have is to either accept the offer or quit the NFL. These players do not have the right to negotiate or sign with another team. The Falcons have a couple of players under this designation.
After dropping a sure touchdown pass against the Panthers, fans probably have some strong feelings about DiMarco, but he did play well at times in 2014. DiMarco played just 214 snaps last season, and it's reasonable to expect that he might be re-signed at vet minimum. Stupar is a valuable special teams player and could be retained as well.
Restricted Free Agents
Restricted free agents are players with three or fewer accrued NFL seasons. There's only one guy on this list for the Falcons in 2015. If another team makes Drew Davis an offer, the Falcons have the right to make a qualifying offer to retain Davis for 2015.
Davis spent much of the season on the PUP list due to a foot injury, and after being activated, he played just six offensive snaps. With just one restricted free agent this season, and the fact that the restricted free agent in question played such limited snaps, it's highly unlikely that the Falcons would receive a compensatory pick should Davis depart.
Unrestricted Free Agents
Once free agency begins, these players, who are players with four or more accrued NFL seasons under their belts, are free to sign with any other team, and the Falcons will receive no compensatory picks and have no special leverage in trying to renegotiate with these players. Here's where we'll likely see some significant change to Atlanta's roster.
There are a handful of players on this list who could, and should, be retained, but there are a number of players who will likely not be in Atlanta next season.
How do you foresee things shaking out for the Falcons' free agents in 2015?
All contract and salary information obtained from Spotrac.com.