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Falcons free agency: Atlanta has a plan, whether we like that plan or not

Unpacking the Falcons' way forward.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons have a plan in free agency, just as they had a plan in free agency a year ago. What much of the fanbase misses in their understandable yet angry reaction to the Falcons' quiet approach in legal tampering—yes, free agency hasn't even started yet—is that the Falcons are this quiet every year. Last year, they wound up signing Jon Asamoah, Tyson Jackson, Paul Soliai, Devin Hester, Josh Wilson and Dwight Lowery, so it's not like that quiet translated into inaction.

What's not guaranteed, of course, is how free agency will actually play out. There are legitimate misgivings to be found here, given that many suspect the Falcons simply aren't going to spend big dollars on some key positions of need, and they need to improve sooner rather than later. I'm not arguing that

The better question to ask is whether the Falcons' free agency plan is a good one, and that's something we're going to find out A) when those players sign and B) when we see what they do on the field. Like it or don't, you don't win free agency in the first week of March, or the Dolphins would have been a playoff team the last two years, not a team that has purged most of its expensive 2013 free agent class. You win by landing quality players who fit your scheme and doing the rest through careful drafting and player development.

For a better sense of where the Falcons are going, you can turn to Vaughn McClure's excellent piece from earlier this morning.

In essence, the Falcons aren't going to be baited into overpaying for free agents. They're not going to burn their cap space on one or two guys to impress the fanbase at the expense of their overarching plan. They're going to try, in their way, to re-stock the roster with useful players who are legitimate upgrades over what they have, they're going to spend to do so, but they're not going to necessarily come away with the starry names fans justifiably clamor for. There are different paths to take to contention, and the Falcons are choosing to largely follow the Seattle/New England model, relying on a handful of stars and a solidly built roster.

Does that mean I'm fond of this plan? Not necessarily. I applaud the Falcons for not going after the big money splashes just to try to sell tickets, but setting a hard cap on pass rusher spending is only wise if you can find diamonds in the rough, and that's no sure thing in this market. We don't exactly what happened with Sean Weatherspoon, but I hate to see him head to another team on a reportedly reasonable deal when he should have been a key cog if healthy. The Falcons deserve a shot to build under a new coach, but they don't necessarily deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Fans who argue there's only so much improvement to be had when you're targeting multiple upgrades versus a couple of true impact free agents do have a point, and the Falcons will be putting a lot of eggs in their draft basket if they can't land a pass rusher and/or tight end who gives them a significant boost. A measured, intelligent approach to the minefield that is free agency is welcome, but there is such a thing as being too conservative, and I hope the Falcons don't fall into that trap.

Tomorrow, I'll dive in more fully on my expectations for free agency. For today, keep an eye out for any rumors, but don't expect many.