By: John Wickham

I wanted to wait until later to start doing one of these but it is the end of the regular season and I think I held off long enough. So here goes my attempt at fixing the Falcons in 1 offseason

Projected cap 2014= $126.6 million or $127.5 million
Falcons projected cap space= $9.65 million or $10.55 million
Falcons cap rollover from 2013= $3.2 million
Falcons new projected cap space= $12.85 million or $13.75 million

2014 Falcon Free Agents
• DT Jonathan Babineaux (UFA)
• DT Peria Jerry (UFA)
• DT Corey Peters (UFA)
• C/G Joe Hawley (UFA)
• G/T Mike Johnson (UFA)
• T Jeremy Trueblood (UFA)
• T Sean Locklear (UFA)
• TE Chase Coffman (UFA)
• WR Kevin Cone (ERFA)
• WR Drew Davis (ERFA)
• FB Patrick DiMarco (RFA)
• CB Robert McClain (RFA)
• CB Dominique Franks (UFA)
• LB Omar Gaither (UFA)

Resigned
DT Corey Peters- Young and has played well.
DT Jonathan Babineaux- Only on a reasonable 1-2 yr deal. And if not then thank you for your service but have a nice day.
C/G Joe Hawley- Depth piece and at least heads into this offseason as the odds on favorite to win the Center job out of the guys currently employed by the Falcons
G/T Mike Johnson- Depth piece and potential starter at RG and RT
TE Chase Coffman- #2 receiving TE behind Levine Toilolo
WR Kevin Cone- Good special teamer Solid Depth
WR Drew Davis- Solid Depth and has done something good things on offense
FB Patrick DiMarco- Depth and can fight Bradie Ewing for starting FB role
CB Robert McClain- Having a down year but still a solid NB
CB Dominique Franks- Depth piece

Released/ Not resigned
DT Peria Jerry- Has been ravaged by injuries. Has not been the same guy. Also he is getting a little long in the tooth.
T Jeremy Trueblood- I do not see a reason for him to be back
T Sean Locklear- I do not see a reason for him to be back
LB Omar Gaither – Solid depth guy, could be brought back later
CB Asante Samuel- With emergence of Trufant and Alford, Samuel becomes an expensive backup (Saves $5.25 million)
Stephen Nicholas- Declining skills with a high salary has been relegated to a backup role with the emergence of Bartu and Worrilow (Saves $2 million)
G/T Garrett Reynolds- He shouldn’t be a starter in my eyes. Could be kept as a backup (Saves $1.3)
Jason Snelling- Getting up there in age, and makes decent money, could be replaced by a younger, cheaper option (Saves $1.375)

Possible Cuts
Osi Umenyiora- Would save $3.5 million
Steven Jackson- Would save $1.84 million
Kroy Biermann- Would save $2.55 million
Matt Bryant- Would save $2.75 million
Bradie Ewing/Patrick DiMarco- Would save $500K apiece
Cliff Matthews- Would save $500K

Retire
TE Tony Gonzalez Would save around $7 million

Restructured
WR Roddy White could save $2-3 million

Signings
I’m going to only focus on the big signings right now and give a couple names per position that I think we should look at. It is kind of hard because we don’t really know if any of these guys will make it to free agency.

DE- I like these guys the most out of the possible free agents and in this order:
Greg Hardy
• Michael Johnson
• Michael Bennett
• Lamarr Houston

I like both Hardy and Johnson a lot but I chose Hardy because while either guy helps us out, getting Hardy also takes away from Carolina’s defense so it is a win-win to me. And what he did against us in the season finale sealed the deal.
I think the contract is going to be something like 5-7 yrs with an annual salary that is close to $12 million. With the first year salary hit being around $8-9 million.

DT- Again it is in the order of how much I like them:
• Paul Soliai
• Arthur Jones
Linval Joseph
• Alan Branch
• Terrence Cody

I think no matter what we will sign at least one DT it might not be any of these guys but we have 3 DTs of our own becoming free agents and I could see the Falcons only resigning one of them. And that would leave the Falcons with 3 DTs: Travian Robertson, Adam Repolge, and the DT we resigned so I could see us signing one and then also drafting one. I don’t think we will be able to sign both a top DE and top DT we would have to slide down and get one of the lesser guys.
I think this contract is going to again be in the 5-7 yr range with an average annual salary around $6-8 million. The first year cap hit would be around $4-5 million.

OL- Here are some guys again in order of how much I like them:
• OG
o Jon Asamoah
o Geoff Schwartz
o Wade Smith
o Travelle Wharton
• OT
o Anthony Collins
o Jared Veldheer
o Rodger Saffold
o Michael Oher
o Zack Strief
o Will Svitek
o Tyson Clabo
• OC
o Alex Mack
o Brian De la Puente
o Fernando Velasco

I don’t think we need to splurge too much on the offensive line because we already have two spots with big contracts but I could see us signing maybe one or two guys. I think we really need to have an average to above average OL to be successful. We have two slightly below average guys at LT, a slightly above average LG, an average C in Joe Hawley, and we might have something in Schraeder at RT or we can play Lamar Holmes there when Sam Baker is healthy. So the only spot where I can see an improvement needed is RG but I would rather grab one of the young guys in the draft than overpay for a free agent. I could see the contract for a RT being for 4-5 yrs with an average salary of $4-6 million. For an OG again a 4-5 yr deal with an average salary of $5-7 million. For C, Mack I think could make $6-7 million a year but the other two wouldn’t cost as much something like $3-4 million a year.
I am not signing any offensive lineman because I think we have 4 guys for the T positions in Baker, Holmes, Schraeder, and Johnson. At G we have Blalock, Gunn, Konz, and Johnson. At C we have Hawley and Konz. So to me I could see us signing a Center or Guard but I am going to go with just some draft picks to help our offense.
Draft

The Falcons are picking 6th overall and will cycle down throughout the draft with the other 4-12 teams. Would need $5-7 million to sign draft picks.

1(6) – DE, Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina or more than likely with Clowney not being available OLB/DE, Khalil Mack, Buffalo
2(37) – OG, Cyril Richardson, Baylor
3(68) – DT, DaQaun Jones, Penn St
4(99) – OLB, Dee Ford, Auburn and in the case we draft Mack then OT, James Hurst, UNC
5(135) – TE, Arthur Lynch, UGA
6(166) – FB, J.C. Copeland, LSU
7(197) – CB, Ricardo Allen, Purdue

This is somewhat of a dream scenario if Clowney drops this far. I think there is a remote chance if some of the QBs coming out perform well in the Combine and Pro days and it only takes one team to fall in love with a guy and select him early.
If Clowney is there when the Falcons pick I think you have to go that route. He is a once-in-a-generation talent that I think just needs to mature a little. He has been told for so long how great he is and I think he needs a wakeup call. And if he does then the Falcons will have a great player. And in this scenario they will have their bookend ends with Clowney and Hardy for the next half decade. With either Osi as the 3rd pass rusher or if he gets cut then it is Massaquoi.

In the second I get our new starting RG. I think out of the top guards available there will be at least one of them available. It could change depending on what happens in free agency but in this mock offseason this is the position to go.

In the 3rd comes another player for our DT rotation. Jones is a big guy at 6’3” and well over 300 lbs. That would leave us with a rotation of Peters, Linval Joseph as the free agent signee, Travian Robertson, Adam Reploge, Jones and possibly Babs.

The 4th round selection is a LB that adds to the youth at the position. The Falcons have Worrilow and Dent at MLB and Bartu and Weatherspoon outside. At least one guy is needed and why not a guy from a team playing for the national championship.

The 5th round pick is a TE that is a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. Arthur Lynch is a good player that can do all what the Falcons like out of their TEs. He runs solid routes, catches the ball pretty well, and has no problem throwing his body into a block.

In the 6th comes a FB that is a sledgehammer that can open holes when none are open. Our running game would improve a lot with a guy like this punishing LBs every play.

Then in the 7th I get a DB that is pretty feisty that can maybe take over for the NB spot in a couple years and can start as our dime back.

The Other Scenario

In the first I get a guy that can replace Kroy Biermann in the LB/DE role or help ease Kroy back after his Achilles injury. It gives Nolan a dynamic piece to help in his disguise coverages. It adds to the young talent the Falcons have at LB with Bartu and Worrilow and Spoon.
The 2nd and 3rd round picks stay the same. But in the 4th instead of doubling up at OLB I get another piece for the OL that needs some healthy competition to keep Matt Ryan upright. Hurst is a guy that falls because of his broken leg but has real good chance at taking a starting spot on our current line.

Our depth chart would look something like this: Bolded are the players from the other scenario
QB: Matt Ryan, Dominique Davis, Sean Renfree
RB: Steven Jackson, Quizz Rodgers, Josh Vaughan, Antone Smith
FB: J.C. Copeland, Patrick DiMarco/Bradie Ewing
WR: Roddy White, Julio Jones, Harry Douglas, Darius Johnson, Drew Davis, Kevin Cone
TE: Levine Toilolo, Chase Coffman, Arthur Lynch
OT: Sam Baker, Lamar Holmes, Ryan Schraeder, Mike Johnson, (James Hurst)
OG: Justin Blalock, Cyril Richardson, Harland Gunn, Peter Konz, Mike Johnson, Garrett Reynolds (if not cut)
C: Joe Hawley, Peter Konz
DE: Greg Hardy, Jadeveon Clowney, Kroy Biermann, Jonathan Massaquoi, Malliciah Goodman, Stansly Maponga, Osi Umenyiora (if not cut)
DT: Corey Peters, Linval Joseph, DaQaun Jones, Travian Robertson, Adam Repolge, Jonathan Babineaux (if resigned)
OLB: Sean Weatherspoon, Joplo Bartu, Dee Ford, (Khalil Mack)
MLB: Paul Worrilow, Akeem Dent
CB: Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, Robert McClain, Ricardo Allen, Dominique Franks
S: William Moore, Thomas DeCoud, Zeke Motta, Kemal Ishmael
K: Matt Bryant, UDFA
P: Matt Bosher
LS: Josh Harris

I think with an improved line and healthy skilled players our offense will be able to score more consistently and hopefully we will be able to keep leads and not need a 4th quarter comeback as often.

A vastly improved DL will make everything better. Being able to rush the passer will make our secondary look a lot better. And if the DL is able to take up blocks that will leave our LBs free to make tackles closer to the LOS.
I was not able to upgrade the FS position but I do not have a problem with giving Thomas DeCoud another chance if we have a better front 7.

I would have liked to add a more explosive KR/PR but could not work it in there. I like our WR depth with Julio, Roddy, HD, Drew and Darius. I could see maybe a late pick at RB or CB but liked the guys I got there for now. I think a more explosive returner would help our offense out. It would help to not have to go 80 yards every drive after a kick return.

It is a little bigger than the 53 allowed but going into training camp I would be interested into seeing who would win the last roster spots to get down to 53.