By: John Wickham

I am really happy with what the Falcons have done so far. In my mock draft I said that the Falcons should be done with offense until the draft but defensively I think there are still some holes that need to be filled before the draft. But before I talk about the moves the Falcons should make, let me talk about the moves the Falcons have made.

So the reports were true about Tony Gonzalez coming back and that the Falcons wanting to sign Stephen Jackson and they did that. I am happy with both moves. Tony doesn’t look to be slowing down and is still one of the best in the game. Stephen Jackson is an older running back with a lot of tread on his tires but I think he has enough left in his tank for maybe 1-2 year run. Especially since he is not going be getting every carry with Quizz and Snelling and we are not going to be running the ball very much anyway.

We did resign Sam Baker. I am not sure about the money but for the first couple seasons it is not very much so at least it gives the Falcons a chance to see what he has before the big money comes in. Todd McClure did indeed retire so I expect Peter Konz to slide over the center and Joe Hawley to be the backup. Will Svitek signed with the Patriots but with Sam Baker back and also Lamar Holmes I did not expect him back unless we did not resign Sam Baker.

On the defensive line we lost both Lawrence Sidbury and Vance Walker. Sidbury was buried behind the depth chart so he really did not have a chance to make an impact, which really sucks because he showed flashes but I do not know why he was not playing. Losing Vance Walker really hurts. But the money that the Raiders paid him was too much for the Falcons. The Falcons do have decent depth at the DT position so this is a position that could be filled by a vet for the minimum or in the draft.

So that is what the Falcons have done so far and now it is time to see what I believe still needs to be done in free agency.

Offensively I think we are set with what we need from free agency. I think there might be some moves made in the draft but for the most part I think we are done. The only move that I can see being done is signing a backup QB. Luke McCown is a free agent so either he could be back or maybe another veteran or they could believe that Dominique Davis is ready for that role.

At LB we need some depth. I think the starters are in place even if some are calling for Stephen Nicholas’ head. We could look for someone cheap in free agency and maybe also the draft.

At S we have two younger guys backing up our starters in Shann Schillinger and Charles Mitchell. Shann is nothing more than a special teamer to me and Charles Mitchell got some playing time last year as a rookie when William Moore went down but not sure if we don’t need to add someone else. Could be a veteran added after the draft near the start of training camp.

At CB we lost Dunta Robinson and possibly Brent Grimes but the longer free agency goes on without him getting a big deal I think he resigns with the Falcons and plays for a contender on a 1-yr deal before trying again next year.

And to me the position that we need to do something ASAP is DE. Even with John Abraham I would still have listed this as a high priority need and now it is even more so without Abraham. Again the longer free agency moves on without one of these older vets getting a contract the Falcons stand a good chance to get one of them on the cheap. But even with signing one I think a high draft pick is needed.

For me a dream scenario that is still somewhat realistic, I hope, in happening is resigning Brent Grimes and signing Elvis Dumervil. With Elvis Dumervil we could still run the 4-3 or even go to the 3-4 where Elvis Dumervil played OLB with our current D-coordinator, Mike Nolan. And then in the draft we might trade up for someone to play opposite of Dumervil. Maybe a Jarvis Jones, slipping because of health concerns (which I believe are overblown), or an Ezekiel Ansah or a Barkevious Mingo. But even if it isn’t Elvis Dumervil than one of the other guys like Osi Umenyiora, Dwight Freeney, or having John Abraham back.

I know, I know, I can hear you say “John how can we afford to make all these moves” and I say “Not so fast my friend I can explain it to you” and here it goes:

  • The Falcons currently have anywhere between $3-7.5 million in cap space depending on who you talk to or where you look. You will probably need around $3-5 million for the draft.
  • A contract extension for Matt Ryan. If it is anything close to Joe Flacco’s extension then it would save the Falcons about $4-5 million.
  • Restructuring the contracts of veterans like Roddy White, Jonathan Babineaux, Justin Blalock, and Tyson Clabo.
    • I know some would wonder why these guys would want to make restructure their deals but I think they would want because they are playing on a contender and also because if they were released they wouldn’t make anything close to what they would be getting because they are on the wrong side of 30 and with the cap not expected to jump anytime soon their contracts are not worth it.
    • Pretty much all of these guys outside Roddy White, have not lived up to their contract in the first place and as you can see in free agenc y this year guys that are younger and in their prime won’t be making as much as Tyson Clabo will be making or Justin Blalock.
    • When was the last time Babineaux really wowed you? He has moments and sometimes games where he dominants but it is usually against lesser opponents not the big games.
    • Roddy is going to be slowly replaced by Julio Jones and I think if we got him to sign a 5-year deal that would lower his cap hit for the next 3 seasons and then keep restructuring and adding on years until he retires because I would like him to retire a Falcon and I think he would be okay with this.
    • I think if we could restructure all their deals, Roddy would save us $3-4 million and the other 3 would save us close to $2 million apiece.
  • So with all those restructuring we would have a saving close to $13 million. Plus the money we already have gives us about $16-19 million in cap space. I think that would be sufficient to sign Elvis Dumervil to a $6-7 million deal and then have enough for Grimes at a $5-6 million deal. And then we still would have money for the draft and any other smaller deal we would want to make in free agency.