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Falcoholinks: All the Falcons news you need for Friday, Mar. 12

Links to start your Friday.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers Appleton Post-Crescent-USA TODAY NETWORK

Free agency kicks into gear next Wednesday, so we’ve got updates on looming Atlanta free agents and some options that they can bring in. Read on for Friday’s edition of Falcoholinks.

Safety situations

Keanu Neal, the Falcons’ first-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, is entering his first year of free agency, and it was announced earlier in the week that Atlanta would not elect to place the franchise tag on him.

While injuries have played a large role in his current NFL tenure, Neal enjoyed a productive 2020 that will likely net him a valuable contract — whether that’s with the Falcons remains to be seen.

Fourth-year safety Damontae Kazee was one of the pending free agents in the secondary that it looked like Atlanta may try to bring back, but as reported yesterday by Ian Rapoport, the Falcons are not expected to re-sign him.

Kazee is still recovering from a torn Achilles, but he should not struggle to find a gig elsewhere.

Free agency on the horizon

Free agency starts next week, and there are a couple of recently released players who Atlanta may have its eye on.

So who are some of the out-of-left-field options for Atlanta in free agency? The Falcons will need to get creative as they look to revamp the team, and that will likely involve exploring serviceable veterans to fill important roles.

But regardless of what the Falcons decide to do, they need to take into account the lessons from the last free-agent period.

Bringing in new faces in free agency will first involve getting under the cap — which the Falcons are currently about $14 million over. So how can that be accomplished?

Re-signings

Two very important new deals were extended to current Falcons players this week, with Atlanta inking kicker Younghoe Koo, and also bringing back defensive lineman Jacob Tuioti-Mariner on a one-year deal.

James Carpenter released

It’s no surprise, but the Falcons have released pricey offensive guard James Carpenter, and saving approximately $4 million in the process.

They signed a punter

File under ‘News you can use’: The Atlanta Falcons have signed a punter. Dom Maggio comes to Atlanta as a second-year player out of Wake Forest who was undrafted in 2020.