Underwhelming Falcons Will Scour Bargain Bin For Upgrades
Being active in NFL free agency is not a situation to celebrate. While grabbing the headlines next week with big signings is nice for the news cycle, it is a larger indication that your team has not drafted or developed talent very well.
The 2014 Atlanta Falcons figure to be active in free agency coming off of a 4-12 season. The fan base is looking for a big fish to be reeled in and lots of money to be spent. However, the NFL landscape is littered with big dollar free agent deals that did not work out as planned.
The Falcons must spend smartly, not wildly. The key to NFL free agency is hitting on the right free agents who fit your needs without overspending. Risk can be rewarded as long as youth is involved. Last year, the Seattle Seahawks landed DE Michael Bennett on the cheap due to injury and he helped the team win the Super Bowl. The Cleveland Browns, on the other hand, got just 4.5 sacks for the $40 million they invested in LB Paul Kruger.
Here are a few players that the Falcons could sign to help fill their needs - smartly:
1. Robert Ayers, DE, Denver: Ayers recorded a career-high 5.5 sacks in 2013 while starting 15 games. The former first round pick will not command as large of a salary as the top defensive ends on the market.
2. Jon Asamoah, OG, Kansas City: Asamoah is a former third round pick who has started 32 games over his career. He lost his job late in 2013 due to a shoulder injury. Asamoah is only 26 years old and will not approach the high-end prices of other free agent guards. He has also played center, which makes him twice as enticing.
3. Scott Chandler, TE, Buffalo: Chandler caught 96 passes and eight touchdowns over the past two seasons in the league. He turns 29 this summer, but is a capable starter if the Falcons are not willing to trust the position to a young or newly-drafted player.
4. Tony McDaniel, DT, Seattle: If Atlanta wants to fulfill its offseason plans to get “grittier”, a veteran addition like McDaniel would be helpful. The 29-year-old would be a “hold the fort” type of signing that would help the Falcons establish a new physical identity on their defensive front.
5. Fernando Velasco, C, Pittsburgh: Velasco was a 27 game starter over the past two seasons. The 29-year-old is a low-cost veteran who will be playing at or near minimum wage for the remainder of his career. Velasco would provide the team with a competent interior line starter or backup.