Atlanta Falcons Veterans Who Have Been Put on Notice This Offseason
While many fans enjoy following the NFL offseason because of the hope and optimism that it often generates for the coming year, the free-agency period and the draft can be nerve-racking for veteran NFL players and their families.
Every rookie provides new competition for a roster spot, and many veteran players end up becoming expendable in favor of their younger colleagues or high-profile veteran free-agent acquisitions.
As we look ahead to Falcons' training camp, let's take a glance at which Atlanta Falcons players may be in danger of losing their job to an incoming free agent, rookie or veteran teammate.
The players on this list were selected based on an evaluation of the positions that the Falcons targeted in free agency and the draft, the players' ages and the future financial implications of the their contracts.
Asante Samuel, CB
Asante Samuel is on notice, but it's not for 2013.
When the Falcons drafted Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford back-to-back, they did it for both the short term and the long term.
In the short term, Trufant and Alford will compete for a starting role opposite Asante Samuel or at nickelback.
In the long term, Trufant and Alford could become Atlanta's starting cornerback duo as soon as 2014, when a then-33-year old Samuel will carry a $6 million cap hit into the final year of his contract.
Shann Schillinger, S
It's generally a bad sign if a team spends two draft picks at a player's position, even if the picks were in the seventh round.
Shann Schillinger was one of Atlanta's top players on special teams in 2011, but he missed the entire 2012 season with a foot injury.
When Schillinger gets back on the field, he'll have to compete with rookie safeties Zeke Motta and Kemal Ishmael, both of whom were drafted by the Falcons this year.
The Falcons recently released Kerry Meier after he failed to develop into the prospect the team had envisioned when he was drafted three years ago, and Schillinger may be on the hot seat this summer if he doesn't come into camp ready to play.
Jonathan Massaquoi, DE
Osi Umenyiora's signing may not have put Jonathan Massaquoi on notice, but Atlanta's decision to draft former TCU defensive end Stansly Maponga probably did.
The Falcons still need a young pass-rusher to emerge behind Umenyiora, and the team sent a "if you can't do it, we'll have someone who can" message to Massaquoi by selecting Maponga in the same round that they selected Massaquoi in 2012.
The Falcons appear set to give Massaquoi a chance to show what he can do this year, but whether he takes advantage of it is completely up to him.
Dominique Franks, CB/PR
Asante Samuel isn't the only returning cornerback whose eyebrows should have been raised by Atlanta's draft.
Dominique Franks faces a crowded competition for playing time at cornerback with Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford in the fold.
Moreover, Alford has enough play-making ability as a return man to keep Franks off the field in that phase of the game as well.
To make matters worse for Franks, the Falcons added two more backup safeties who will also provide competition if William Moore or Thomas DeCoud were to go down with an injury.
If Franks doesn't establish himself at cornerback in training camp, he could be in a for a fight to make the roster.
Kroy Biermann, DE
Kroy Biermann got the chance to start at left defensive end for most of last season after the Falcons released Ray Edwards, and while he always plays hard, he still hasn't become a consistent pass-rush threat.
Biermann's athleticism and versatility may buy him some more time, but Malliciah Goodman's arrival should serve notice that the Falcons aren't going to wait on Biermann forever at left defensive end.
Don't be surprised if Biermann's role shifts back to more of a situational player if Goodman picks up the defense quickly in camp.
Who Else Should Be on Notice and Why?
The Falcons made the choice to make some major changes to their roster, and that decision was executed earlier this offseason when the team released Dunta Robinson, Michael Turner and John Abraham (please stop asking him to come back).
In addition, the team recently let go of former starting right tackle Tyson Clabo, who has since found a new home in Miami.
While many Falcons fans were disappointed to see some of these players leave, the moves appear to have been thoroughly calculated after taking a look at Atlanta's recent draft history.
For example, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jonathan Massaquoi, Cliff Matthews and Lamar Holmes were all drafted by the Falcons before any of the popular veterans mentioned above were cut by the team.
Given Atlanta's 2013 offseason, which other players on the roster do you think should be on notice headed into next season?