We're all suckers in February.
That's true of rumors—we're eager to believe that a hot draft prospect or free agent could be heading to Atlanta, understandably—and in our conducting our own research. It's easy, this time of year, to convince ourselves that Ahmad Bradshaw will take a reasonable contract to come to Atlanta, or that the Falcons can cut bait with a couple of players and bring in a stud defensive end that will solve our pass-rushing woes. There's nothing wrong with indulging in these discussions—we're football fans in the off-season, and we'll be doing an awful lot of it here—and it's always possible that the Falcons will go for a Bradshaw or a Paul Kruger or a Chris Canty.
I don't want to be the giant rain cloud hovering over your parades, but it's worth remembering that 99% of the guys that have been, will be and are currently linked to Atlanta won't end up on the team. That would be true in the average year, but there's a couple of extenuating circumstances this season.
The first is the cap. Some writers covering the Falcons—like Bleacher Report's Scott Carasik—believe it will be a fairly painless process to come up with over $10 million. I'm a firm believer that the Falcons won't be cutting a ton of veterans this off-season, though, which means fairly limited cap space. Even if you do free up $10 million, you're only getting 2-3 decent free agents back for it, or one really amazing one. It may well be worth it, but chances are that at least one of the players you or I are salivating over won't be available or feasible for that money.
The second circumstance is where the team is at right now. They could cut Thomas DeCoud, but there's not a ton of depth at free safety. They could cut Dunta Robinson, but he's a veteran cornerback who knows the system and has managed to hang on through a few off-seasons when he was playing worse than he did in 2012. And you could look for a free agent offensive lineman, yes, but the Falcons have been collecting young talent and seem to be content to let them grow into starting and backup roles. This is a team that needs to improve, but their modus operandi has never been to throw around a lot of free agent dollars patching holes. They make a quick splash and get out.
Those two factors work against the Falcons signing even one big name free agent, much less several. I write this not to squash discussion, because I've got potential free agent profiles in the pipeline as we speak. I write it so you set your expectations low.
Feel free to disagree, though. Do you see the Falcons making a splash in free agency in 2013?