Survey the Falcons' roster and you'll find plenty of players on one-year deals. That's not unusual for any NFL team in and of itself, but it's the reason these players have one-year deals that we're so interested in.
I'm referring to a player like Adrian Clayborn, who has had a pair of effective seasons sandwiched by two riddled with injuries. Or O'Brien Schofield, a useful complementary pass rusher with a problematic knee. Or Leonard Hankerson, a big target for Matt Ryan who has spent too much time hurt to really be a factor in recent years. Tony Moeaki, Tyler Polumbus, Chris Chester and Charles Godfrey all belong on this list, even if they're not all injury risks.
The question we have to ask ourselves is whether the Falcons are simply trying to patch a makeshift roster with affordable one-year fixes, intent on replacing them with rising young players in 2016, or if this is something we need to keep our eye on over the long haul. If we accept it's not the former, then this team is either going to give many of these players a try and look to ink them to long-term deals if they thrive in Atlanta, or they may be looking to fill multiple roster spots per year with short-term commitments.
That last scenario is particularly interesting, because the Falcons have repeatedly been burned by long-term contracts that didn't pan out. You need look no further than Ray Edwards, Dunta Robinson or Sam Baker to see that for most NFL teams, at least a handful of long deals will make short-term commitments suddenly seem very attractive. If the Falcons can draft and develop effectively from here on out, those short-term gambles can pay off often enough—and carry so much less risk—that I wouldn't be stunned to see Atlanta pursue the strategy.
It still seems likely that players like Clayborn, Chester and Godfrey are simply keeping spots warm for a year while this team attempts to contend and nurture young players in 2015, and someone like Hankerson could certainly return if he turns in a solid year in a receiving corps that could use another big red zone target. But don't be surprised to see this team hunting for bargains on an annual basis, particularly if this particular crop of free agents pays dividends in 2015.
What's your take?