With free agency opening its vast golden doors today, it's the last chance to get in predictions without sort of making up those predictions after the fact. On the off chance I'm right about a couple of these, I'd like to get these predictions in front of you right now.
What follows is my best guess at free agency for the Falcons, including fresh signings and re-signings. If your favorite free agent isn't on here, it's not because I hate him, but because I don't necessarily think he'll wind up in Atlanta. The Falcons have been tight-lipped in legal tampering, so we'll see what the days ahead bring.
Let's get down to brass tacks.
- The Falcons will add a pass rusher or two. Atlanta's not going to be shy about adding an upgrade to arguably the league's most atrocious pass rush. If the market shakes out in a favorable way, they could even add two, but my money's on a single addition to supplement the first round pass rusher they're likely to pick up in the draft. The problem is that it's not likely to be any of the top guys available, but instead a complementary player with a little upside.
Jabaal Sheard, Brian Orakpo, O'Brien Scofield and Jason Worilds are the likeliest additions in my eyes, but there may be a couple of overlooked players who wind up in Atlanta. Scofield worked with Quinn in Seattle, has fine per snap numbers and is being linked to the team by Vaughn McClure and others, so I'd view that as a very likely signing, indeed.
- The Falcons sign a free agent middle linebacker. The guy they sign will likely be a starter over Paul Worrilow, but either way, the Falcons are going to look to bolster their depth at the position. Look for Brandon Spikes, Mason Foster, or Nate Irving. Brooks Reed is also an option to kick inside, if he winds up in Atlanta.
- They shop for a complementary back. No matter how much they like Devonta Freeman, the team isn't going to just hand him the starting job. Even if he emerges unscathed from a training camp battle, the Falcons will want a battering ram and a guy with breakaway speed to round out the their corps. Antone Smith could very well return, but my money's on Justin Forsett being the outside free agent addition for the Falcons, and he'll likely pick up 150 touches or so, at least.
- You're looking at least one free agent tight end. It could be a relatively big name like Jordan Cameron or a lesser-known, young quantity like Virgil Green, but the Falcons desperately need to add talent to a position where Levine Toilolo is the sole incumbent. Look for the signing to push Toilolo into a backup role as a red zone target and blocker.
If the team has the cash and likes the market, they could go with two tight ends and give themselves a more formidable depth chart.
- The team will largely shy away from the big dollar secondary signings. You may see a nickel back picked up, or a safety like Ron Parker who can compete for the starting free safety gig. With Byron Maxwell and Devin McCourty already off the market, though, the Falcons simply aren't going to spend big in the secondary, if they were even considering it in the first place.
- They'll re-sign a fairly limited number of their own players, and they're almost done. I have a feeling we've seen almost all of the re-signings the Falcons plan to make out of their current crop of free agents, however, and you shouldn't expect to see a great number of free agents making a triumphant return.
If I have to make the call, I'll say McClain and Antone Smith.