For the first time since general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith arrived in 2008, the Falcons are going into the free-agency period without the cloud of another winless postseason hanging over their heads.
Even though Atlanta freed up some cap space by releasing veterans John Abraham, Dunta Robinson and Michael Turner, fans shouldn't expect the team to deviate much from Dimitroff's stated goal of building primarily through the draft.
This year's draft should play an even larger role because the Falcons will have their full allotment of draft picks.
In spite of that, Dimitroff has proven that he will make a splash or two during the free-agency period over the years. In 2008 he signed Michael Turner, 2009 brought Tony Gonzalez (via trade), 2010 yielded Dunta Robinson and 2011 produced Ray Edwards. Last offseason, the Falcons focused on re-signing their own free agents before trading for Asante Samuel prior to the draft.
Who or what will this year's free-agency period bring? We will soon find out.
I'm of the belief that the most successful NFL teams use free agency to supplement the draft, thus setting themselves up to draft for talent over reaching for need.
With that in mind, allow me to offer my five-step blueprint for my ideal 2013 free-agency period for the Atlanta Falcons.