The Falcons didn't make any huge splashes in the first day of free agency, but they did bolster their roster with three new faces and one very familiar one.
I've argued that the Falcons are going to take a low-key approach to free agency, not landing major splashes but spreading their dollars around to fill multiple needs. While I'm sure I'll only get one or two of the particular players right when the dust settles, the philosophy seems to be holding thus far.
The Falcons still have major holes at tight end, guard and a need for a pass rusher, and I'm hopeful they'll take care of all of those in the days and weeks ahead. For now, here's a rundown of who the Falcons signed in the first day of free agency.
- Brooks Reed. A likely starter on the strong side, Reed brings little in the way of pass rushing skills, but plenty of run-stopping ability and a little positional versatility. He can also cover, making him a welcome addition to a young linebacking corps that has some major weaknesses. And that hair!
It's possible Reed could move to middle linebacker, but regardless of where he ends up, he's likely to be an upgrade for Atlanta.
- Justin Durant. An athletic, productive linebacker with real injury concerns. He's likely the weak side starter, or at the very least veteran depth for all three linebacker positions for the Falcons, and he provides real coverage chops, terrific range and the ability to diagnose a play. He has to stay healthy for those skills to shine through—he's played just 16 games in the last two years—but Durant is being underrated because we're all so wary of guys with injury histories.
- Antone Smith. He needs no introduction. Smith is an explosive athlete, and an even bigger threat as a receiver than he is as a runner. Kyle Shanahan should enjoy utilizing him in the offense, potentially kicking him out wide to deadly effect.
- Mike Person. Probably little more than depth at guard, Person's still a little bit young, so the Falcons may have seen something they liked here. For now, don't pencil him in as more than a versatile backup.
The Falcons reportedly are visiting with Derrick Morgan and Leonard Hankerson, and both would offer tangible upgrades for the receiving corps and that all-important pass rush. Hankerson is not a confirmed signing, but it sure looks like he'll wind up here. If the Falcons lock them down, add a veteran tight end and add a little more talent to the secondary, they should be all set for the NFL draft in April. As always with free agency, though, everything's in flux.
Oh, and in NFL news, the Saints traded Jimmy Graham to Seattle for a first round pick and a center. I'm not sure how that's going to work out for them, but I hope it's poorly. Sam Bradford and Nick Foles flip-flopped teams, Darrelle Revis returned to the Jets on a massive deal and the Falcons' reported interest in Lance Kendricks was a dud, given that he re-signed with St. Louis. But hey, who cares? The Falcons signed guys!
Your thoughts on the first day of Falcons free agency?