We’ve handled post-lockout to-do lists for the NFC East and AFC East. With some newfound progress in labor talks, we better pick up the pace on our team checklists or it may actually be post-lockout before we’re done. We hope.
Now up: Last year’s No. 1 seed in the NFC, the Atlanta Falcons.
1. Prioritize, sign free agent offensive linemen.
We’ve mentioned this issue a few times this offseason. The Falcons will likely only be able to sign 1-2 players from the following group of free agents: Tackle Tyson Clabo, guard Justin Blalock and guard Harvey Dahl.
The Falcons have a new crop of developing linemen ready to step up, but the lack of depth at right tackle could be a concern after they didn’t address the position in the draft. Perhaps that could be worth a few bucks to Clabo.
2. Find another running back.
Jason Snelling is one of the most underrated backs in the league and is a free agent. We think the Falcons should pay to re-sign him, even after drafting Jacquizz Rodgers. The Falcons don’t lose much when they go from Turner to Snelling. Jerious Norwood is as good as gone.
3. Pick up a linebacker.
Mike Peterson seems to think he’s returning to the Falcons, but the Falcons may want to reduce his snaps. Versatile backup Stephen Nicholas is also a free agent. Even with Sean Weatherspoon picking up responsibilities, the Falcons need a solid starter here and maybe another backup.
4. Solve the specialists.
Kicker Matt Bryant is a free agent and there’s a good chance he’ll be re-signed. Punter Michael Koenan is also a free agent.
5. Add depth to cornerback.
The Falcons seem to like Chris Owens as a nickel back, but it is barren behind him. A veteran presence makes sense.
6. Justify the Julio Jones trade.
We usually give rookie receivers some time to develop, but the size of the Julio Jones trade package puts pressure on Atlanta to help him produce right away. Also providing pressure: The team is desperate for someone who can create big plays other than Roddy White. That’s why they went nuts for Jones in the first place.