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Kroy Biermann, returning Falcon or exiting free agent?

Falcons fans feel strongly about Kroy Biermann, but there's a chance he could return to Atlanta.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It's safe to say that Kroy Biermann is a lightning rod for this fanbase. He's consistently been one of the team's most-used defenders, but slowly he's gone from being an unheralded fifth round pick to reviled starter. The question we must confront this year is this: Will Biermann return?

If you had posed this question to me just a month ago, my answer would have been no, because I would wager most of the coaches on the Falcons' list would not have brought Biermann back. Dan Quinn is a different sort of coach, however, and Biermann's versatility might mean he returns. The task of rebuilding a defense is a daunting one, and while the Falcons do have some quality young pieces, it's tempting to fill some of those gaps with a proven player who you know isn't an active liability, even if some of you would agree with even that modest assertion.

In the past, any use of the dread V-word has kicked off debate about whether someone who does several things competently but few things well can be considered an asset for a team. The short answer to that question is yes, and in Biermann's case, he could be counted on to rush the passer decently, drop back in coverage better than most of the ends and linebackers on the team and be where he was supposed to be on any given play. He could be washed out of plays, he isn't a sure tackler and his pass rushing skills don't exactly leap off tape, it's true, and that's what drove a ton of the frustration these last seven seasons. But if you could sign Biermann to a cheap contract—and that's entirely dependent on the level of interest in his services around the NFL—he slots in as a useful reserve who can move around the formation, giving the team's starters a breather without a massive drop-off.

And that's where the coaching staff has done Biermann no favors over his seven seasons in Atlanta, chiefly by giving him starter's snaps while never tremendously upgrading defensive end. Those snaps ensured that Biermann, who isn't great at any one thing, would be viewed as a staff favorite who didn't deserve his starting gig, and there was certainly some merit to that view. A utility man is considered useful in baseball, but in the NFL that same role is met with derision because fans and pundits alike want to see only the best players on the field.

I'm not the first person to raise the question, and I won't be the last before free agency opens in March. What is clear is that there will be strong feelings in the wake of any decision, because if there's one thing Biermann truly does well, it's kick up those feelings.

Does Biermann return in 2015?