The Falcons have a sound free agent strategy frequently doomed by execution, wherein they attempt to spread their dollars out and acquire multiple useful players without getting sucked into the big money morass that ends up bogging down a lot of teams. The few times they've spent big on individual free agents like Dunta Robinson, it hasn't worked out that well, but in fairness they've been landing the wrong players for years no matter how much they spend.
Recently, Arthur Blank spoke to ESPN about his commitment to spending in free agency, and it did nothing to convince me that the plan isn't the same as it's ever been.
"We will spend every dollar that I'm committed to spending," Blank said. "We are very limited by cap space. We'll probably end up with -- prior to the 9th of March which is the start of free agency -- between $20 million to $24 million in cap room. We will spend whatever we can to ensure a successful team."
You don't have to read between the lines that much to see the qualifiers here, particularly when Blank spells out how much cap space he expects Atlanta to have. They could carve out more than that by cutting ties with semi-productive veterans like Devin Hester, Tyson Jackson, and Roddy White, but at least early on, there's no indication they'll be doing a ton of bloodletting when it comes to veterans.
If the Falcons do end up around $23-25 million, they can certainly upgrade multiple positions on the roster, with strong safety, linebacker, pass rushing end, guard, and both tight end and wide receiver looming as major needs. The problem has not been that the Falcons don't have ridiculous cap space and don't spend up to the hilt—though there are years where they would have been better off doing so—but that they're landing the wrong players most years. If Atlanta actually boasts better scouting now, this might be the year the approach finally pays off, but I still anticipate plenty of angst given what we're hearing from the team and Blank in particular.