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Grading Thomas Dimitroff: The disastrous 2013 free agency period

The 2013 free agent period is the one that most fans remain most grimly.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

When you look back at where the Falcons went wrong over the last several years, there are many things that jump out at you, from the Julio Jones trade to ignoring the pass rush to the wrong picks at the wrong time in the draft. None of them, in my opinion, contributed to the team’s current state quite like the 2013 offseason.

In one fell swoop, the Falcons released several contributing veterans, signed two veterans who turned out to not have much left to give Atlanta, and fell behind other contenders, most notably the Seattle Seahawks. Free agency shouldn’t make or break a team, but along with some of the decisions Thomas Dimitroff and company made up to this point, this one ended up breaking the Falcons. Slight hyperbole there, but read on.

Atlanta Falcons

falcons 2013 draft grades

Urp. That’s just some bile coming up, no worries.

The Falcons made a classic mistake coming out of 2012, which was purging essential veterans in the interest of trying to get younger and keep things going after they got awfully close to the Super Bowl. That might have been okay had Atlanta nailed free agency and the draft, but by going for a pair of veterans butting up against the end of their primes, Dimitroff and company kind of doomed the 2013 Falcons.

S-Jax was clearly getting older, suffered through injury, and dealt with very poor line play (goodbye, Todd McClure!) this year. Umenyiora was better, I’d argue, but the Falcons simply had no pass rush and Osi was no longer the phenomenal player he once was. Those were the big expenditures for 2013 free agency, and the Falcons messed it up, big-time.

They did get Paul Worrilow as an undrafted free agent, however, and whatever his popularity level with the fanbase, he’s a UDFA who has started three years in the NFL.

Seattle Seahawks

seahawks 2013 draft grades

This is when Seattle really took off, so you’d expect their free agent class to be a big reason why. You will not be disappointed.

Percy Harvin was a poor trade and signing with the advantage of hindsight, given his injury and off-the-field concerns that more or less torpedoed his career in Seattle, but otherwise John Schneider absolutely crushed this offseason. In Bennett and Avril, he got two premier free agents at discount prices, and while Bennett holds out or grumbles about his contract every offseason, he’s quite simply one of the most impactful defensive linemen in football. That alone was enough to make the Seahawks’ free agent class a tremendous one.

Cleveland Browns

cleveland browns 2013 draft grades

The Browns had one of their more successful free agencies this year, landing Krueger and Bryant on fairly reasonable deals. Krueger has played all 48 games with 46 starts, putting up a total of 18 sacks over the last three seasons, so it’s very fair to call his deal a quality one. Bryant hasn’t played a 16 game season for the Browns and will miss the entire 2016 season thanks to injury, but he did have 14.5 sacks and was a very useful player up front for the Browns.

Krueger was a guy I wanted at the time, scheme fit be damned, and I certainly think it would be fair to pine for this free agent class.

New York Giants

new york giants 2013 draft grades

A genuine mixed bag. Cullen Jenkins has been a solid starter for New York since signing his deal, Josh Brown has been one of the league’s most accurate kickers over the last three seasons, Mike Patterson was a valuable role player for two seasons, and they got one solid year out of Brandon Myers and Ryan Mundy. On the other hand, only Brown and Jenkins can be considered truly successful free agents, while Aaron Ross and Dan Connor were both busts in blue.

Overall, considering the vagaries of free agency, a solid enough class.

The Results

Simply put, the Falcons couldn’t afford to mess up badly in free agency after getting so close to a Super Bowl in 2012 and “enjoying” a pretty terrible draft that year. Unfortunately for everyone who loves this team, they did.

Whether Osi Umenyiora and Steven Jackson completely cratered or the team around them was a shall of itself with the offseason purge, the Falcons wound up kind of bombing 2013 free agency in a major way. Considering the other three comparison teams here all arguably got better—with the Seahawks landing the free agent haul that pushed an already good team over the top—this offseason stings.

This is a major black mark on Dimitroff’s record, frankly, and probably the offseason more fans will hold against him than any other. I know the bitter feelings stir to the surface when I look back at this.