Free agency hasn't even started yet and there are some fans who are wringing their hands over what the Falcons have been up to post-Dan Quinn hiring. While I never advocate for panicking or even grumbling all that much before we hit free agency, there have been moves that have warranted a raised eyebrow.
There's the $1.5 million deal for Charles Godfrey, though we don't know how much of that is guaranteed. There's the re-signing of Cliff Matthews and Patrick DiMarco. And now, there's the universally beloved Eric Weems.
If you view the Falcons' re-signings through the prism of of Keith Armstrong's special teams preferences, it's easy to see who has been the major driver for the moves thus far. Matt Bryant, Weems, DiMarco, Nate Stupar, Matthews and even Godfrey are quality special teamers who ensure that Armstrong will have access to players who he feels comfortable with
When you have plenty of money and a fairly deep free agency class in which to spend it, figuring out your special teams needs early so you don't need to waste dollars and times scouring the open market for a kicker, a gunner and special teams tacklers, all of which are relatively fungible players. With the exception of Bryant, who is getting paid like one of the NFL's best kickers (and who is one of the NFL's best kickers), everyone they've re-signed is being paid close to the veteran minimum, and every single one of them has a role on special teams. Weems is getting a little more because he's worth a little more.
That's valuable for Armstrong, and it means Dan Quinn and the front office can focus on getting players who are massive upgrades on their respective sides of the ball and don't need to carry any particular special teams value.
What's up for debate, of course, is whether it's a particularly great idea to have multiple players like Stupar and Weems, who are terrific at what they do best but offer little outside of that special teams context. Without any sense of how the rest of the offseason is going to go, I'll acknowledge the importance of ST units and hope this is the extent of the attention that will be paid to it.
It's easy to wonder when you cut familiar names and re-sign fringe players, but again, this is about special teams value. So long as the Falcons sign legitimately impactful defensive and offensive players in free agency, the re-signings we've seen thus far will be little more than a footnote for 2015. At least until Bryant nails a game-winner.