The Atlanta Falcons ended the 2010 campaign with a disappointing end with a blow-out loss to the Green Bay Packers.
But looking forward, the Atlanta Falcons have to decide what to do with the 15 free agents that they have. Some of these should be no-brainers, like Tony Gonzalez and Brent Grimes, but others will be tough to decide.
Three starters on the offensive line are going to free agency and I think that the Falcons need to go after all three of them. I am a strict believer that you win games in the trenches and it is imperative that the Falcons return their offensive line starters.
Other offensive players include running backs Jason Snelling and Jerious Norwood, along with wide receiver Brian Finneran.
But the biggest question mark will be whether the best tight end in the history of football returns. Tony Gonzalez will either retire or return for the Falcons in 2011. The Falcons, if they want to make a serious run at a Super Bowl, will need to sign Gonzalez.
On the defensive side two starters are up for free agency in addition to four back-ups. This is the one area of their team where they can afford to not sign some of these players.
For the Falcons to compete at a higher level next year they will have to improve on the defensive side of the ball.
The punter, Michael Koenan, and kicker, Matt Bryant, are also up for free agency and I see no reason why the Falcons shouldn’t sign them to contracts.
With that being said, here is a slide-by-slide look at all of the Falcons free agent as well as a verdict on whether Atlanta should keep them or let them go.
But first, realize that with no collective bargaining agreement, no players can sign anywhere. So free agency won’t start until after the agreement is signed between the NFL and the NFLPA. This could have an impact on what teams make moves and where some players go.
But there is no doubt in my mind that an agreement will be made. For these executives and players to allow a football season not to be played would be the stupidest thing they could do. So I am not worried, and neither should you.
Tony Gonzalez, TE
2010 Stats: 16 games started, 70 receptions, 656 yards, 6 TD’s
Summary: On the Falcons side this should be a no-brainer. If Tony Gonzalez wants to return to football, they have to sign him. The only questionable thing is whether the future hall of famer wants to hang it up or give it another go round.
Gonzalez is a huge threat in the Falcons offense. He gives Matt Ryan a third-down target and when he’s not catching the ball he is a great blocker and opens up seems for Michael Jenkins and Roddy White.
There is absolutely no reason for the Falcons to even think about signing him or not. If he returns, they need to get him, plain and simple.
Verdict: Keep if he keeps playing
Brent Grimes, CB
2010 Stats: 5 interceptions for 84 yards, 70 tackles
Summary: With 11 interceptions in the last two years this should be another no-brainer for the Atlanta Falcons. Grimes is young, only 27 years old, and even though he stands at 5-10, he is someone the Falcons need to bring back.
With key interceptions this year against Baltimore and New Orleans he is someone the Falcons can’t let get away. Yes the Falcons secondary was picked apart when they played the Packers, but he is still someone they have to sign.
Jason Snelling, RB
2010 Stats: 87 attempts, 324 yards; 44 receptions, 303 yards; 5 total touchdowns
Summary: Jason Snelling has done a great job being a back-up running back behind Michael Turner. Although he hasn’t had that many opportunites, he has stepped in when Turner goes to the sideline.
I see this player as another one the Falcons need to keep. With Michael Turner continuing to be the feature back, the Falcons need a number two that can be ready to step in should Turner go down with an injury.
I think Snelling is that guy. He’s not going to make the biggest or best plays, but he will do enough for the Falcons offense should Turner go down.
Jerious Norwood, RB
2010 Stats: 2 attempts, 8 yards; 1 reception, 9 yards
Summary: After suffering a knee injury in the second week of the season against the Arizona Cardinals, Jerious Norwood spent the rest of the season on the sideline.
I don’t think injury should be a valid reason for letting someone go, but the Falcons should part ways with Norwood due to the emergence of Jason Snelling.
Sure, Norwood offers that burst of speed that the Falcons don’t have on offense, but Norwood just hasn’t produced in his last two seasons with the Falcons. He only has one touchdown in the last two years.
It is time to let him go, but only if you can find someone that can be a valuable asset as the third string, which shouldn’t be hard to do.
Verdict: Let Go
See the rest of the list at Sports with Mike