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Atlanta Falcons Free Agency: Keep, Walk or Tag Options for Every Free Agent

Scott CarasikContributor IIJanuary 10, 2014

Atlanta Falcons Free Agency: Keep, Walk or Tag Options for Every Free Agent

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    Both Jonathan Babineaux and Corey Peters are free agents in 2014.
    Both Jonathan Babineaux and Corey Peters are free agents in 2014.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Atlanta Falcons have 14 free agents going into the 2014 offseason. With 51 players already on the Falcons' 2014 roster and around $16.5 million in cap space, Atlanta has more than enough room to keep the seven or eight free agents that they should keep.

    However, some players just need to go. Atlanta would be wise to let these guys walk and follow their dreams elsewhere in the NFL. Follow along as we go over each of Atlanta's 14 free agents and what they should do with each one.

WR Drew Davis, Exclusive Rights Free Agent

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Exclusive rights free agents have to do something stupid to not be offered a contract for their next season, as they only cost veteran minimum for a season. Drew Davis has done the complete opposite by showing that he's both an asset in the passing game and on special teams.

    Atlanta should easily keep Davis for this completely inexpensive cost because he has at least earned a spot on the training camp roster for the cost of this no-risk contract. His blocking, special teams and receiving abilities have all shown to be worth keeping for the Falcons.

    Keep, Walk or Tag: Keep

WR Kevin Cone, Exclusive Rights Free Agent

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Kevin Cone is in the same boat as Drew Davis when it comes to what he brings to the team. He's mainly a very good special teams player who understands his role when he's on the field in the offense. Cone isn't the receiver Davis is, but he is a better blocker.

    Again, the Falcons need to keep the inexpensive free agent at least through training camp. He may never be an exceptional offensive weapon, but by keeping a solid special teams player to at least compete in camp, the Falcons will have a deeper roster.

    Keep, Walk or Tag: Keep

TE Chase Coffman, Unrestricted Free Agent

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    Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

    Chase Coffman was supposed to be the next great tight end coming out of college in 2009. However, he was never able to put it all together and has needed to take some time behind a mentor to truly adjust to the pro game.

    He has the perfect opportunity to resurrect his career in Atlanta in 2014. Atlanta should give him a shot to be the next Tony Gonzalez on a minimal contract. If he shows he is that guy, re-sign him long-term after the season.

    Keep, Walk or Tag: Keep

OT Jeremy Trueblood, Unrestricted Free Agent

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    When it comes to players who don't deserve to be on NFL rosters, Jeremy Trueblood should be right at the top of the list. His play in 2013 wasn't just terrible, it was completely, unforgivably horrific. He was one of the worst players on the Falcons offense.

    So the Falcons need to just cut ties with him. Even at a veteran-minimum salary, Trueblood will do better to find employment on another team. Atlanta could find another veteran to compete with the current roster that would actually provide positive depth in 2014.

    Keep, Walk or Tag: Walk

OT Sean Locklear, Unrestricted Free Agent

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Atlanta signed Sean Locklear partially through the 2013 season as depth in case of multiple horrific injuries. Fortunately, he never had to see the field and embarrass the Falcons offensive line more than it had been.

    The Falcons need to get better and deeper on their offensive line. And that doesn't include keeping Locklear. So they should let the long-time veteran walk because they will be a better team if they build the line through draft and outside free agents.

    Keep, Walk or Tag: Walk

OT/OG Mike Johnson, Unrestricted Free Agent

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Mike Johnson hasn't been 100 percent healthy or able to win a starting job in his first four years as a pro. Atlanta should make an attempt to keep him if he's not super expensive. However, if he wants too much money, he can go.

    The Falcons need good competition for their offensive line, but they also need guys who can stay healthy. The best-case scenario is that Johnson finally shows he's a starting right tackle and stays 100 percent healthy.

    Keep, Walk or Tag: Keep

C/OG Joe Hawley, Unrestricted Free Agent

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    One of the most underrated players on the Falcons offensive line is Joe Hawley. While he didn't have the greatest season, he did show that he needs to be given a legitimate shot at starting center. He has a Todd McClure-type build and talent level that the coaches didn't realize he had until later in the season.

    He also has the nastiness that new offensive line coach Mike Tice will love. He performed much better than Peter Konz did in 2013, and because of that, the Falcons need to try to bring him back in 2014 to compete for the starting center job.

    Keep, Walk or Tag: Keep

DT Jonathan Babineaux, Unrestricted Free Agent

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    Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

    The Falcons have a ton of need at defensive tackle in 2014, and a good bit of it is because Jonathan Babineaux kept overrunning plays in the backfield in 2013. Atlanta needs someone who can create the same kind of penetration but not be a 32-year old with better days behind him.

    That being said, if Babineaux is willing to take a massive pay cut, the Falcons should keep him around for rotational and sentimental purposes. He's still got quality as a depth player. However, Atlanta should let him walk if he wants even close to what he made in 2013.

    Keep, Walk or Tag: Walk 

DT Corey Peters, Unrestricted Free Agent

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    Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

    Corey Peters is the complete opposite of Jonathan Babineaux. He's a young player who is only getting better every year. He's also been playing the 1-technique spot in the Falcons defense when he is better suited for the 3-technique role that Peria Jerry and Jonathan Babineaux have been rotating in.

    Peters is someone the Falcons need to break out all the stops to keep. If he wants the same contract that Babineaux just finished, the Falcons should just give it to him. He'll be worth it as he could provide more pass rush and better run stuffing than Babineaux can going forward.

    Keep, Walk or Tag: Keep

DT Peria Jerry, Unrestricted Free Agent

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    Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    One Falcon who didn't really deserve to make the roster in 2013 but did out of default was Peria Jerry. He showed up and had his best season because it was his contract year. However, the Falcons need to find an upgrade over Jerry in the rotation.

    Re-signing Corey Peters, upgrading over Jerry and adding a true 1-technique defensive tackle should be on the Falcons' priority list. Re-signing a 30-year-old Jerry who has been nothing but mediocre in his career should not be.

    Keep, Walk or Tag: Walk

DT Adam Replogle, Exlusive Rights Free Agent

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Adam Replogle was a practice squad member for almost the entire 2013 season. For whatever reason, the Falcons didn't have him elevated to the main roster with a multi-year deal. However, he is an exclusive rights free agent and the minimal salary he will sign for is worth every penny.

    In preseason 2013, Replogle was one of the best Falcons defensive tackles. He showed that he could shoot the gaps in the pass and the run. He was also the only member of the Falcons preseason roster to record a sack or a hit without also making the regular-season roster. Give him another shot in 2014.

    Keep, Walk or Tag: Keep

LB Omar Gaither, Unrestricted Free Agent

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Depth is always important to have in the NFL. However, Omar Gaither is one guy on the Falcons roster who could be out of luck when it comes to re-signing for the 2014 season. The Falcons have Akeem Dent and Paul Worrilow as players who have beat out the veteran for a role at middle linebacker.

    So Gaither had to show he would earn a spot with special teams. However, he even lost that role. With Dent, Worrilow, Sean Weatherspoon, Joplo Bartu, Kroy Biermann and Stephen Nicholas all under contract for 2014, Gaither is extremely replaceable at best.

    Keep, Walk or Tag: Walk

CB Dominique Franks, Unrestricted Free Agent

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Dominique Franks had a complete lack of playing time in 2013. He was the fifth-best cornerback behind Robert Alford, Desmond Trufant, Asante Samuel and Robert McClain. So he wasn't going to see a ton of action in the first place.

    However, he did play a good bit on special teams and performed well there. If the Falcons want to maximize competition in training camp, bringing back Franks would be the best move. And if they cut Samuel, re-signing Franks just looks that much smarter.

    Keep, Walk or Tag: Keep

CB Robert McClain, Restricted Free Agent

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    In 2012, Robert McClain looked like arguably the best nickel cornerback in the NFL. He showed that he is an effective tackler and intelligent, athletic coverage asset. However, in 2013, he looked to have taken a step back with Robert Alford taking his job after some early-season abuse.

    That being said, he rebounded well and definitely deserves to receiver a restricted free-agency tender. At this point, the only real question is if the Falcons should offer him a second-round tender or if they should offer him an original-round tender.

    Keep, Walk or Tag: Keep

     

    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, College Football, NFL and the NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.

    Follow @ScottCarasik

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