The Atlanta Falcons just wrapped up a magical season with a tragic ending, and now it’s time to consider what lies ahead. First up: Free agency!
In total, the team has 26 free agents to reckon with, which is a pretty large number. Of those, 17 are unrestricted, four are restricted, and five are exclusive rights free agents, which means the Falcons essentially just need to make an offer. The good news is that aside from Taylor Gabriel and Ricardo Allen, none of those players have to be considered essential (though many are useful), and the Falcons can be judicious about who they re-sign. Their improvements are going to come out with outside free agents (and they can’t afford a ton of them) and the draft (where they have six selections).
Here’s the full list, via Spotrac, with a quick prediction for whether each player will be re-signed.
2017 Falcons free agents
DT Jonathan Babineaux - Not re-signed
QB Matt Schaub - Not re-signed
LB Paul Worrilow - Re-signed
G Chris Chester - Not re-signed
TE Jacob Tamme - Not re-signed
LB Sean Weatherspoon - Not re-signed
DE/DT Courtney Upshaw - Re-signed
ST Eric Weems - Re-signed
DE Dwight Freeney - Not re-signed; retired?
LB Philip Wheeler - Not re-signed
S Dashon Goldson - Not re-signed
T Tom Compton - Not re-signed
FB Patrick DiMarco - Re-signed
LB LaRoy Reynolds - Re-signed
WR Aldrick Robinson - Not re-signed
CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson - Not re-signed
TE Levine Toilolo - Re-signed
S Kemal Ishmael - Re-signed
WR Taylor Gabriel - Re-signed
G/DT Ben Garland - Re-signed
LB Tyler Starr - Re-signed
CB/S Akeem King - Re-signed
WR Nick Williams - Not re-signed
FS Ricardo Allen - Re-signed
CB Deji Olatoye - Re-signed
LB Josh Keyes - Re-signed
TE D.J. Tialavea - Re-signed
You’ll note that I only have the Falcons re-signing seven of these players. I think they’ll head into 2017 carrying six drafted rookies, a couple of UDFAs, and a handful of significant free agent signings, so none of the guys I have them skipping on are truly essential. I think the Falcons will have to give Gabriel some money to keep him around, but I can’t imagine they wind up missing out on any of their restricted free agents if they want them, and Starr and King still have some unrealized upside.
Chris Chester could re-sign down the line, Jacob Tamme would still be useful to have around, and Sean Weatherspoon is still mighty useful if he’s healthy, but again, don’t expect any of these guys to return. The Falcons re-sign (in my opinion) the most essential players from this list, with Dwight Freeney’s looming potential retirement making him a wild card.
Go nuts. Who do you have the Falcons bringing back?