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Why the Falcons have been more likely to spend big on offense than defense in free agency

It fits with the way Dan Quinn wants to build this Atlanta football team, in short.

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

By now, you’ve undoubtedly seen the Falcons sniffing around Terrell McClain. You may be wondering why the Falcons are not going hard after one of the big name defensive free agents available this year, few as they are, especially because they’ve been linked to big name offensive linemen. What, you may ask, gives?

This is not an unreasonable question, but it is a question that is pretty easily answered by looking at Dan Quinn’s two seasons with this team. The Falcons have spent a little money to get the likes of Derrick Shelby and Brooks Reed the last two years, but neither one broke the bank, and neither one was going to be counted upon as a full-time starter in the first place. Instead, the Falcons have made a point of adding players they think are nice fits for the defense and trying to draft the kind of foundational talent they need to take things to the next level. That’s how you wind up with Adrian Clayborn, Reed, Shelby, and Dwight Freeney, while the draft brings in Vic Beasley and Grady Jarrett.

On offense, by contrast, you’re not rotating nearly as much. You can mix and match your options at running back, receiver, and tight end, but along the offensive line your starters are ideally playing every damn snap from Week 1 to the end of the Super Bowl. A huge investment in Alex Mack does more for you than a big name defensive lineman, then, if you’re the kind of coaching staff that values heavy rotations to keep your guys fresh. The Falcons certainly do.

So that’s why. Don’t be surprised if someone like Ronald Leary lands in Atlanta and the team picks up free agents like McClain and Dwight Freeney on the other side of the ball. It has been their M.O. under Quinn.

On the other hand, they’ve been linked to some bigger names like Nick Perry and Dontari Poe, so perhaps with the offense largely finished, this will be the year the team flips the script on us. If so, let’s just hope they land the right guys.