The Falcons have a lot of roster needs, a mostly new staff, and a restructured front office heading into the 2015 season. NFL Network and NFL.com featured a Falcons forecast for the coming season with predictions on what Atlanta fans can expect from the team in the weeks and months ahead.
NFL.com's Mark Sessler broke down key free agents, the players he expects the team to part ways with, the team's biggest needs and his projections for the Falcons this offseason. Sessler believes Osi Umenyiora is gone after having just 2.5 sacks last season in a situational role. He believes the team could part ways with Jacquizz Rodgers, particularly with the running back depth in this draft class, and Sessler acknowledged that Thomas Dimitroff said he hopes to re-sign Sean Weatherspoon despite his injury history.
The other key free agents Sessler lists but does not address include some important names. Kroy Biermann, Matt Bryant, Corey Peters, Antone Smith and Dwight Lowery are all free agents. Biermann is no fan favorite, but he may have a role in Quinn's defense, even if it's a less prominent one. The Falcons are reportedly in the process of trying to secure deals with Matt Bryant and Corey Peters, as well as Eric Weems and Sean Weatherspoon. Antone Smith has big play potential, and Dwight Lowery played well enough last season to warrant consideration.
As far as players Sessler believes could be cut, Steven Jackson and Harry Douglas are at the top of his list. It makes little sense to keep Jackson based on age, recent injury history, cost, and the transition to a zone blocking scheme, which seems to be a great fit for Devonta Freeman. Douglas will cost the Falcons just under $4.4 million this season, which is quite a bit for the third receiver on the depth chart. Cutting Douglas would save the team $3.5 million.
In terms of needs, Sessler acknowledges that the roster holes are plenty. Pass rush is a priority, and he expects Quinn to bring in tall, physical corners and depth at safety to remake the secondary in Seattle's image over time. Sessler also acknowledges Atlanta's need for a receiving tight end and rushing talent.
Sessler expects the Falcons to be in play for free agent cornerback Byron Maxwell, and expects them to go after pass rushers via free agency and the draft. He also anticipates an extension for Julio Jones this offseason.
The NFL Network segment, which is embedded in the article, had some different perspectives. Terrell Davis believes the Falcons need to focus on the pass rush this offseason, while Jordan Babineaux feels that safety and running back will be emphasized for the Falcons.
What's your Falcons forecast for the coming season?