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2014 Atlanta Falcons Free Agent Wish List: 10 Names Who Should Be Targeted

Scott CarasikContributor IIDecember 3, 2013

2014 Atlanta Falcons Free Agent Wish List: 10 Names Who Should Be Targeted

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    Who knows? Maybe Atlanta can convince Tony to come back again.
    Who knows? Maybe Atlanta can convince Tony to come back again.Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    The Atlanta Falcons have quite a few holes on the team that need to be filled. They can't do it all through the draft, so some key free agents need to be signed.

    Now, I'm not saying they should try to sign all 10 of these guys. There's just not enough room under the cap for that. But they should definitely make plays for all of them and sign a couple of them.

    If Atlanta can do that, it would definitely be in a better position to draft based on best player over true need.

    Follow along as we look at the best options for the Falcons this coming offseason.

     

    Note: All players listed have expiring contracts as of 12/3/2013. However, things always change before free agents become available.

WR Andre Roberts

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    As much as Harry Douglas has improved in 2013, he'll still be 30 years old for the 2014 season. Atlanta also has an aging Roddy White and could use someone as a legitimate injury option if White does go down with an injury for the season again.

    This would be a move completely for depth, but Andre Roberts is a great fit as a slot and outside receiver and is tough as nails. He'd be able to provide some competition to Douglas for the third receiver role in the offense.

     

    Age on opening day 2014: 26

    Pro Football Focus Grades: -1.7 Offensive Overall, -1.6 Pass, 0.0 Pass Block, -0.5 Screen Block, -0.9 Run Block, +1.3 Penalty

    2013 Stats: 12 Games Played, 35 Catches, 349 Yards, 1 Touchdown

TE Jimmy Graham

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Now, there's no reason to expect Jimmy Graham to ever leave New Orleans. And the Saints would be stupid not to do everything they could to keep him. But, if for whatever reason he does become available, Atlanta needs to break the bank to bring him aboard.

    Tony Gonzalez will be gone at the end of the year, and Graham would provide a receiver that every defense has trouble covering.

    Now, imagine being an opponent facing an offense with Roddy White, Julio Jones and Jimmy Graham on the field. In the famous words of Bray Wyatt, "run."

     

    Age on opening day 2014: 27

    PFF Grades: +14.0 Offensive Overall, +17.3 Pass, 0.0 Rush, -0.1 Pass Block, -0.5 Screen Block, -4.6 Run Block, +1.9 Penalty

    2013 Stats: 12 Games Played, 68 Catches, 989 Yards, 12 Touchdowns, 1 Tackle

OL Rodger Saffold

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    The right side of Atlanta's offensive line has been terrible this season with Jeremy Trueblood at tackle and Garrett Reynolds at guard. The team needs someone who is young but still ready to step right in and start. In this situation, Rodger Saffold could come in and compete for four spots on the line.

    Ideally, Saffold would go for the right guard role with Lamar Holmes at right tackle and Sam Baker at left tackle. But it honestly doesn't matter which job he wins. As long as he wins one and improves the line, signing Saffold would be a beautiful move.

     

    Age on opening day 2014: 26

    PFF Grades: +2.3 Offensive Overall, +1.0 Pass Block, 0.0 Screen Block, +1.9 Run Block, -0.6 Penalty

    2013 Stats: 8 Games Played, 5 Games Started

OT Jared Veldheer

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    So let's assume that the Oakland Raiders actually let Jared Veldheer walk this offseason. If they actually do that and Atlanta has a legitimate shot at signing him, it should do so. Veldheer is a top-10 left tackle in the NFL and would upgrade a pair of spots immediately. 

    He would upgrade left tackle, but he could also upgrade right tackle by moving Baker or Holmes there. And if Baker and Holmes lose at right tackle, they should compete with Peter Konz at right guard for the starting role. The overall line would just be better in this situation.

     

    Age on opening day 2014: 27

    PFF Grades: -0.4 Offensive Overall, +1.1 Pass Block, 0.0 Screen Block, -0.9 Run Block, -0.6 Penalty, X Special Teams

    2013 Stats: 1 Game Played, 1 Game Started

OG Jon Asamoah

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    Kyle Rivas/Getty Images

    The most logical move for the Falcons offensive line is to go out and get a right guard. The Falcons are stuck with Sam Baker for at least two more years because of his contract, so he would be given a shot at either tackle spot. And Lamar Holmes is starting to come into his own at left tackle. So you have to keep him in.

    Ideally, the Falcons bring in Jon Asamoah because he's a solid yet unspectacular all-around guard. That's all they really need. Matt Ryan just needs an average to above-average line to be great. Baker, Justin Blalock, Joe Hawley, Asamoah and Holmes would be, at the very leastaverage.

     

    Age on opening day 2014: 26

    PFF Grades: +7.1 Offensive Overall, +4.9 Pass Block, -0.5 Screen Block, +0.9 Run Block, +1.8 Penalty

    2013 Stats: 10 Games Played, 9 Games Started

DE Michael Johnson

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Atlanta has had quite a few issues at left defensive end since Patrick Kerney left after the 2007 season. Between the busts of Jamaal Anderson and Ray Edwards and the lack of great draft picks, the team's best left defensive end is a guy who should be playing linebacker: Kroy Biermann.

    So the Falcons should bring in the hometown defensive end in Michael Johnson. He's been a midlevel pass-rusher, but a great run defender. He's exactly what Atlanta has needed on the left side for the past few years and shouldn't be super expensive after a lesser productive season.

     

    Age on opening day 2014: 27

    PFF Grades: +21.9 Defensive Overall, +16.1 Run Defense, +6.0 Pass Rush, 0.0 Pass Coverage, -0.2 Penalty, X Special Teams

    2013 Stats: 11 Games Played, 39 Tackles, 3 Tackles for Loss, 3.0 Sacks, 13 QB Hits, 27 QB Hurries, 1 Interception, 2 Fumbles Forced, 8 Pass Deflections

DT/DE Lamarr Houston

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    If Atlanta were to let Jonathan Babineaux walk, this is the man the team would need to sign instead. At 6'3", 305 pounds, Lamarr Houston is actually a little bigger than the longtime Falcon. But more importantly, Houston can actually set the edge effectively when he plays end.

    He can also penetrate well in the middle when he plays defensive tackle. Atlanta should use him like it uses Babineaux, and it could easily have an eight- to 10-sack guy who also gives the team great run defense. With a versatile guy like Houston, the Falcons could run more multiple sets and get even more unique on defense.

     

    Age on opening day 2014: 27

    PFF Grades: +9.3 Defensive Overall, +9.3 Run Defense, -0.6 Pass Rush, +2.0 Pass Coverage, -1.4 Penalty

    2013 Stats: 12 Games Played, 50 Tackles, 6 Tackles for Loss, 5.0 Sacks, 14 QB Hits, 36 QB Hurries, 2 Fumbles Forced, 1 Fumble Recovered

DT/DE Vance Walker

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Vance Walker left and the Falcons run defense became terrible. He was great in Atlanta's scheme last year and left for a starting role in Oakland. Walker has been playing well as the starting 3-technique for Oakland and should be a key free agent for Atlanta this offseason.

    With the amount of snaps in which they put three defensive tackles on the field, the Falcons need to have better defensive tackles. Peria Jerry has looked horrible, and if the Falcons don't bring the Georgia Tech product back, it would be shocking.

     

    Age on opening day 2014: 27

    PFF Grades: +6.1 Defensive Overall, +2.7 Run Defense, +0.9 Pass Rush, 0.0 Pass Coverage, +2.5 Penalty

    2013 Stats: 12 Games Played, 31 Tackles, 4 Tackles for Loss, 3.0 Sacks, 4 QB Hits, 35 QB Hurries

DT Linval Joseph

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Atlanta needs a big-bodied defensive tackle to team up in the middle with a midsize defensive tackle on run downs. Linval Joseph is the run-stuffing defensive tackle that Atlanta the team has needed in the middle.

    His 6'4", 328-pound frame allows him to take on double-teams all game. On top of that, he can actually control the double-teams and break through them.

    Joseph's best fit is as a 1-technique nose tackle in all schemes. If the Falcons bring back Corey Peters in addition to signing Joseph, they would be able to easily upgrade their run defense by having a pair of strong, wide-bodied tackles on the inside.

     

    Age on opening day 2014: 25

    PFF Grades: +6.6 Defensive Overall, +6.8 Run Defense, +0.1 Pass Rush, -0.3 Penalty

    2013 Stats: 11 Games Played, 41 Tackles, 4 Tackles for Loss, 2.0 Sacks, 7 QB Hits, 6 QB Hurries, 1 Fumble Forced

LB/S Taylor Mays

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    The Falcons need someone who can cover tight ends effectively. They need to stop fooling around, and, if he's available, bring in Taylor Mays.

    Mays may not be perfect as a starting safety, but Atlanta could easily move him to linebacker or even adjust the defense to include a Spur role like what the Carolina Panthers run.

    Mays is an excellent coverage safety underneath and has the size at 6'3", 220 pounds to stick with guys like Jimmy Graham and Greg Olsen in coverage. And who knows—maybe starting him at linebacker could be the best thing for his career and for the Falcons.

     

    Age on opening day 2014: 26

    PFF Grades: +0.5 Defensive Overall, -1.2 Run Defense, -1.7 Pass Rush, +3.2 Pass Coverage, +0.2 Penalty, -1.0 Special Teams

    2013 Stats: 8 Games Played, 19 Tackles, 1 Fumble Recovered, 3 Pass Deflections

     

    All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus' Premium Stats (subscription required), ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac and Rotoworld.

     

    Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL, College Football and NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.

    Follow @ScottCarasik

     

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