We're entering the fifth day of NFL free agency, and all the fourth day brought the Falcons was question marks. Shelley Smith and Darian Stewart were set to visit Atlanta, but both signed with Denver before they ever got to Hartsfield-Jackson. Tight end Rob Housler—who I'll readily admit is a player I'd like to see on in Atlanta—came in for a visit, but didn't sign anything. Oh, and Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo signed with the Titans, leading to some genuine fist-shaking from the fanbase.
Look, we all know the Falcons have to plaster over some of the holes the previous tenants kicked in the wall, which is especially awkward because Dan Quinn is currently living with a great many of those tenants. We also know that it's not going to be strictly a one-year job to fix those holes, and that the Falcons are going to place a huge emphasis on picking up playmakers in the 2015 NFL Draft. None of this is news to us, and given the way the Falcons have handled free agency thus far, more budget signings and a couple of whiffs should be expected.
For all that, it is genuinely frustrating to see the Falcons identify a pair of targets and fail to get them in the building. I wasn't tremendously excited about Shelley Smith and Stewart—chances are you can draft a guard and sign Dwight Lowery without a major dropoff from either—but Atlanta wanted those guys there, and they were perfectly content to take Denver's money. it's a good reminder of the task in front of Quinn, Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli, who have to take a team that was a tremendous contender as recently as 2012 and rebuild it from the ground up. But when you predicate your free agency success on sticking to a hard cap on dollars spent and spreading those dollars around rather than making one or two satisfying splashes, the signings that don't happen rankle a bit more.
Today may bring a Housler signing or new interest in a veteran guard or safety, because those needs haven't gone anywhere. I'd welcome the additional signings because they'll at least give the Falcons depth, and there should be money left over to give Julio Jones the extension we all know is coming. But with free agency slowing down, the Falcons can and probably should be patient to try to land bargains.
Always remember: The teams that "win" free agency rarely wind up winning anything else. That thought will keep you going, even if free agency gets very quiet in the days ahead.