It's been clear throughout Thomas Dimitroff's tenure that the priority for the Falcons is building through the draft and supplementing through free agency.
That's all well and good when they hit on draft picks at positions of need. The Falcons did so when they selected Matt Ryan with the third-overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, but depth across the board is a concern, and building through the draft and supplementing through free agency hasn't resulted in an adequate defense.
There are many players available in free agency this year who could fill some of the glaring holes on the Falcons' roster, and with new head coach Dan Quinn on board, it will be interesting to see if the Falcons' approach to free agency shifts at all as they look toward building the "fast and physical" roster that Quinn prefers. All indications to this point suggest that Quinn and Dimitroff have a good working relationship and we can expect them, along with Scott Pioli, to collaborate on free agency decisions.
Per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dimitroff said he's been spending a lot of time working with Quinn on reviewing the current roster, draft possibilities and free agent options. "I'm taking about the skills," Dimitroff said. "I'm talking about the speed and production and comparing that to what's on our draft board, (which is) right beside our pro free agency board."
The team has a good amount of money to work with this offseason, but don't expect Atlanta to sign every big-name free agent fans want. That has never been a part of Dimitroff's free agency approach, and that's unlikely to change. Fans should temper their expectations. Getting players that fit into Quinn's system is the priority. "One of the things about free agency that we know is that there tends to be ramped up expectations," Dimitroff said. "I think Dan is going to make sure that's not the issue here and that's not the approach."
While the team does have plenty of money to spend, it's unlikely they'll break the bank in free agency. Managing the cap effectively has always been a strength of Dimitroff's and that priority should continue to play into his free agency approach. Quinn has emphasized that the coaching staff he has assembled is filled with great teachers. They're coaches who can develop talent and help players adapt and fit into the new scheme. While the team may not target the flashiest free agents on the market, they will target guys who can work with this coaching staff and become effective in this scheme.
"It's about making sure that we get people who fit into our system," Dimitroff said. "We're not going to be making a big deal about it. We're not going to have a lot of pomp and circumstances about our acquisitions. It's about making sure that they fit in with this football team."
How would you describe the Falcons' philosophy on free agency? What do you think will change about their approach now that Quinn is involved?