The Falcons will sign one "big" name, and opt for mid-tier guys elsewhere
Honestly, I hope I'm wrong about this. The team has so many needs, and at this point, there's just no way they can fix it through the draft. The free agent signings from last year was a smorgasbord of middle-tier guys, and the results are disappointing. Two of those players aren't on the roster anymore (Hankerson, Durant) and two others are free agents again (Schofield, Clayborn). The team hasn't made a "splash" signing in a long-time, depending on whether you consider Ray Edwards to be a splash or not.
Ideally, the one "big" name will be a Pro-Bowl caliber player. The rotation of substandard play at the Center position makes Alex Mack a very attractive option. The pitiful WR rotation would make Travis Benjamin a great signing. The release of veteran William Moore makes signing George Iloka a no-brainer. Finally, fixing the linebacker position with a player like Danny Trevathan would be a huge boon. Fans hoping for all of these will be disappointed, though. I do think we could see one of these names on a Falcons uniform in 2016, but my bet is it will only be one.
The Falcons will be bigger players than they want to admit.
As of this writing, the Falcons are in on Bruce Irvin, Alex Mack, George Iloka, Reggie Nelson and quite a few other names that could impact and start for the team in 2016. While people keep clamoring for the big name signing, Atlanta is being a bit more calculated than just throwing money around everywhere.
The Falcons have a plan in free agency. They admitted to trying to sign Tamba Hali, and if they can bring in someone who can actually rush the passer across from Vic Beasley, it's not going to hurt the team. So be patient. Rome wasn't built in a day. The Broncos took multiple years to develop into a champion. So did the Patriots. Breathe, and go along for the ride.
I may have blind optimism.
Year after year, the Falcons front office seems to leave free agency after satisfying none of us. Though, this offseason is a little different. Atlanta is playing with some hefty change at a projected $30 million plus, and the team was reported to be major players for the likes of Tamba Hali and Bruce Irvin. Aggressiveness doesn't seem to be an issue this year, and I can't help but think defensive players would enjoy playing under Quinn. I may be setting myself up for major disappointment, but I'm expecting Atlanta to snag two of the top quality players they've been rumored to be courting. If not, we can always take our mob-like anger to the Falcoholic twitter feed.
In a big dollar market, can the Falcons keep up?
In this environment, where every team can throw a blizzard of dollar bills toward the free agents they like, it's going to be easy to get outbid. A team like the Raiders has no concern for your petty cash flow issues, as they showed when they gave stud guard/tackle Kelechi Osemele $12 million per year to play for them. The question is whether the Falcons can figure out a way to backload contracts to nail down their rumored targets, and walk away with a solid class that includes a couple of headliners. I fully expect the Falcons to land (or come close to landing) the likes of Olivier Vernon, Alex Mack, and/or a veteran receiver, but otherwise they'll look to fill their needs with the kind of mid-tier, solid if unspectacular free agents they've always prioritized.
It just better work this time.
The Falcons are going to mess this up.
Another season, and the Falcons are already linked to a number of confusing players. Early rumors suggest that are pushing for Alex Mack, Mitchell Schwartz, and Mohamed Sanu. Danny Trevathan and any potential pass rusher talk have disappeared. While admittedly the last week has soured me on this team, but Dimitroff has typically stayed away from big spending in free agency. Dunta Robinson was signed to big money in 2010, but the team has otherwise looked to second and third tier players to fill their roster. If you wonder why the roster looks so bad, consider the team's past overpaying of mediocre players like Tyson Jackson and Paul Soliai. Considering the perplexing early rumors, my only expectation is the team passes on better players that fit bigger needs.
The recent PR disaster is going to make this much more difficult.
The Falcons have done themselves no favors over the past couple of weeks and now find themselves squarely in the scope of what may eventually be a legal investigation over questions asked to prospects at the NFL Combine. Combine that (see what I did there? If you laughed, you're fired) with Roddy White's ugly, ugly divorce from the team and, in my humble opinion, you have created one of the least desirable places for free agents in the NFL. By no means do I think the current Falcons are undesirable, but they have created this mess for themselves at the worst possible time and now stand to reap the benefits (or lack thereof) of their actions. Travis Benjamin is gone. Bruce Irvin is gone. Shanahan seemingly has not changed his ways, so why would Alex Mack want to come here and reunite with him? We could be setting ourselves up for a huge letdown this free agency period, but I guess we'll see. I'm not convinced we haven't already screwed this up.
Brace yourselves for a bit of disappointment.
I thought there was potential for the Falcons to have a solid free agency, but I have this sinking feeling that our favorite team is going to mess this up somehow. The Falcons have several holes on the roster and it just won't be possible to address each of those needs. Some free agents are already set to cash in on tremendous deals, which means the Falcons may be strapped to make even one similar signing. I expect the same as last season's free agency: a bunch of "cheap" players expected to outperform their contracts. Of course, I hope I'm wrong about that route being a disappointment this time around.