Through two days of free agency, the Falcons have managed one splash signing per day and some solid, appreciated smaller signings along the way. The second day's splash was much more controversial than the first, both because Mohamed Sanu has not proven himself to be the caliber of player that Alex Mack is, and because of the cost associated with Sanu's contract.
Sanu was also the only major signing on Thursday, which means he more or less has to stand alone. There was one fun one late, however.
Until we see what Sanu can do in a Falcons jersey, all we have is his past production, the many games he played for the Bengals to watch, and of course his contract. Nothing I just listed paints the picture of the needed second option in the passing game the Falcons covet, except of course for his contract.
We should acknowledge that Sanu was in demand for multiple teams, including the Patriots, chiefly because he can do a little bit of everything well. He runs the football well when called upon, he can throw the ball very well, and you can move him around the formation to exploit matchups. The issue, as I see it, is that Sanu is primarily being paid to catch the football, and that is the one area in which he has consistently underwhelmed.
In 2014, for example, Sanu dropped 15 passes in what was otherwise his most impressive season, a campaign that saw him reel in 56 catches for 790 yards and five touchdowns. Largely playing behind Marvin Jones, A.J. Green, and ceding targets to both Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard, Sanu was basically the fourth or fifth option in the Bengals' passing game, and he never really made the case for being much higher than that. He has decent wheels despite his pedestrian 40 yard dash time, and enough size to make him intriguing to Kyle Shanahan, but nothing about his career as a receiver thus far suggests he's primed for a leap forward. He's just a solid wide receiver with the potential to do some interesting things because of his versatility.
That's really the issue: If there's something to Sanu that we haven't seen yet, we're not going to see it until the season kicks off, and he's being paid as though a breakout is surely on the horizon. Until we see what he can do on the Falcons, the grumbling will persist, and rightfully so.
I predicted Harris would return, and I was right! Woo!
Harris will be Atlanta's swing tackle in 2016, more than likely, and Dan Quinn singled him out as someone who made strides over the 2015 campaign despite his lack of playing time. Harris has a reputation for being a bit slow-footed and prone to being bullied by bull rushers, which he'll hopefully be able to fix if he's ever called upon to enter the game for Jake Matthews or Ryan Schraeder. As a low-cost, somewhat young backup tackle, though, he's fine.
The Falcons can't afford to rely on Spoon, which means he should top out as a reserve for Atlanta. It's still great to see the former first rounder and legendary locker room presence back where he started, and if he is healthy, Weatherspoon will be one of the more athletic and versatile linebackers on the team. Expect nothing, but pull hard for Spoon.
Overall, this was a quiet second day, but Sanu may be the most pivotal signing of the offseason. If he lives up to his contract, there will be a lot of embarrassed Falcons fan (myself included), the passing game could truly excel, especially with Alex Mack anchoring the line, and the Falcons will be a much better team for it. If he can't, it'll just be the latest blemish on this front office, on Kyle Shanahan, and on the Falcons themselves, as well as more dead money.