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Offseason priorities: Atlanta Falcons

Roddy White, Justin Blalock Tyson Clabo AP

Despite the ominous tone of labor negotiations, we march forward with our running series looking at each team’s free agent priorities.

We’ve already featured the Packers and Steelers.   Next up: The Atlanta Falcons.    We focus on what players are scheduled for unrestricted free agency using the old rules (four years) and the list isn’t meant to be exhaustive.  (We list players if they are interesting.)

The Big One: Tackle Tyson Clabo.

Three Falcons offensive line starters are set to be free agents.  Clabo, who developed from an undrafted player to a standout right tackle, is our pick as the most valuable.  There is local speculation the Falcons won’t overpay to keep him, but a franchise tag isn’t out of the question.

If the Falcons like ’09 fifth-round pick Garrett Reynolds, they could let Clabo walk.

The Key Ingredients: Guard Justin Blalock and guard Harvey Dahl.

The Falcons have essentially rolled out the same offensive line the last three years running.  Blalock has been steady since getting taken in the second round  in 2007.  Dahl is less talented, but one of the nastiest players in the league.  We’d guess Blalock gets priority here.  The Falcons will be able to keep two of the three linemen above at best.

Role Players: Running back Jason Snelling, Kicker Matt Bryant, punter Michael Koenen, linebacker Stephen Nicholas, and wide receiver  Brian Finneran.

Snelling’s agent doesn’t know his client’s status.  We think Snelling is one of the more underrated backups in the league and fits what the Falcons do perfectly.  Nicholas is versatile, while it seems like Finneran has been on his last legs four years running.

Could be on the way out: Running back Jerious Norwood, cornerback Brian Williams, linebacker Mike Peterson, and defensive end Jamaal Anderson.

Norwood is explosive, but never learned how to pass protect.  Snelling is more reliable, and the team will probably only re-sign one of the two.  The Falcons may have to choose between Peterson and Nicholas.   Anderson is under contract for almost $3.6 million and could be cut.

Looking ahead: Linebacker Curtis Lofton, cornerback Brent Grimes and defensive end Kroy Biermann.

The Falcons have plenty to worry about with this year’s free agent crop.  When they have time, Lofton should be a priority to re-sign long term.  Grimes and Biermann are also core players with contracts that end after 2011.

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14 Responses to “Offseason priorities: Atlanta Falcons”
  1. johnnybaggadonuts says: Feb 14, 2011 4:53 PM

    I remember getting him in Madden 08 and he turned into a beast. So I’m not shocked at all by his development. ;)

  2. mikeborio says: Feb 14, 2011 5:10 PM

    ^ idiot.

    Who?! And then he based real life developmental skills on a video game that’s two or three years old. If you lived in San Diego, you would have been all over Ryan Leaf as well.

  3. medtxpack says: Feb 14, 2011 5:13 PM

    i hope the falcons continue to improve. good team and good competition in the NFC. plus Arthur Blank is due for some good karma…

  4. packattack1967 says: Feb 14, 2011 5:18 PM

    ohnnybaggadonuts says: Feb 14, 2011 4:53 PM

    I remember getting him in Madden 08 and he turned into a beast. So I’m not shocked at all by his development. ;)
    _____________

    WTF?

  5. techvet says: Feb 14, 2011 5:25 PM

    After watching the 48-21 loss highlights over and over, Mike Smith will be asking his GM to get some defensive help.

  6. shecklesmckenzie says: Feb 14, 2011 5:31 PM

    @techvet: Yeah, like the last 2 years. I think they will be alright, they just need more experience. Their defense is very young aside from Abraham and Peterson. These guys will get better….or Van Gorder will get axed next year.

  7. tucknrolle says: Feb 14, 2011 6:33 PM

    A lot of teams can be jealous of.. Franchise QB, beast of an RB, and a legit playmaking #1 receiver.. What they don’t have is a D that can make that stop in the 4th quarter (I.e. Aaron Rodgers drive in reg. season) they do have a “shutdown” corner (what a steal) and an average linebacking core. bottom line a little secondary help and some big nasties on the D-line.. Someone who can get off blocks and ruin a running game..

  8. beckzhere says: Feb 14, 2011 6:57 PM

    Norwood is gone. They already have his jersey on clearance at the Falcons online store. Good riddance. He had serious potential but never could stay healthy. Good luck elsewhere Jerious.

  9. rajuncajun28 says: Feb 14, 2011 7:13 PM

    FALCLOWNS will always be RINGLESS in ATL…..loser franchise…loser tradition….loser owner….loser coach…players are thugs…

    Stay classy….

  10. beckzhere says: Feb 14, 2011 7:40 PM

    tucknrolle,

    You are the first person to publicly state that Brent Grimes is a shutdown corner.

    If you look at his stats from last year, they are amazing. QB’s threw to his side of the field 90% of the time and he still locked it down. No drama or complaining for cash, just business. Not to mention he came pretty cheap.

  11. madnova says: Feb 14, 2011 9:38 PM

    My guess on the first comment is Jamaal Anderson for the Madden beast.

    And I hate to say it, but if quarterbacks are throwing to your side 90% of the time, it’s because you are leaving people open.

  12. bdert says: Feb 15, 2011 11:58 PM

    Falcons are ok…w/ some fine tuning in the off season & younger players gaining more experience, They’ll improve…Just so happen to run up on a hot team th@ gave them match up issues as they did everyone else they faced…

  13. johnnybaggadonuts says: Feb 16, 2011 3:17 PM

    Does the wink emoticon not mean anything to you people? What has this world turned into?!

    Of course I was being sarcastic. Extract the sand from your nether regions ladies.

  14. sowcrates says: Feb 20, 2011 2:40 PM

    ^ still an idiot

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