5 Moves the Atlanta Falcons Must Avoid in Free Agency
For the Atlanta Falcons, free agency has been a hit-or-miss proposition under the current regime. Players like Ray Edwards, Osi Umenyiora and Steven Jackson have been seen as major disappoints in recent memory.
While these players carried some serious name value on the open market, it can be stated that all were risks due to everything from age to talent.
Looking ahead to the forthcoming free agency period, the market has plenty of big name players that should come with asterisks like the aforementioned players above should've.
The Falcons have a plethora of needs and when you couple that with the $19,688,149 in cap space, according to OverTheCap, they have the ability to really do some serious damage.
They also have the ability to swing and miss on some of these shiny new toys.
It's time for Atlanta to disregard hype and acquire players who fit the scheme. Let's take a look at players who would have Falcons fans breaking out a bottle of Pepto-Bismol.
Signing Louis Delmas
Theoretically, Detroit Lions safety Louis Delmas would be an ideal addition to Atlanta's secondary. He's a rangy safety that will separate your soul from your carcass upon impact. His ferocity would mesh well with strong safety William Moore's, and he'd be the aggressive blitzer the scheme covets.
But the Falcons can't afford to fill a prominent spot on their roster with a player with a degenerative knee condition. While Delmas did play in all 16 games last season, he played a total of 19 the previous two seasons combined.
He rarely practiced and it showed up on game days in the form of blown assignments. In addition, he would be counted on to cover slot receivers and tight ends in man coverage and that's not a strong point in Delmas' game.
He's also a threat to draw personal fouls as he tends to launch at targets instead of applying proper technique. He's been a part of some of the worst secondaries in recent memory and it can be argued that his freelance style of play has contributed to that.
If the Falcons' doctors are fine with his knee, and the coaching staff believes they can reel in his style of play, Delmas may be an upgrade over incumbent starter Thomas DeCoud.
But is the risk worth the reward?
Signing Sidney Rice
It's surprising to see so many fans and pundits jump at the idea of former Seattle Seahawks receiver Sidney Rice landing on the Falcons' roster—as he's been a disappointment for the majority of his career.
In his seven seasons in the NFL, Rice only has one, 1,000-yard season to his credit. Furthermore, he's only played all 16 games twice in his career and is coming off a year where he played just eight (due to a torn ACL).
The 6'4", 202-pound Rice is an undoubted talent. His ball-skills are superb and his field-stretching ability isn't far behind. He'd be an excellent target for quarterback Matt Ryan between the 20's and especially in the red zone.
But that would be when he's available.
For a team that was hit hard by the injury bug in last season's 4-12 debacle, one would think the Falcons would stay clear of anyone with an injury history that's as extensive as Rice's. We would all hope the Falcons would catch lightning in a bottle with the talented Rice, but the chances are we'd be looking at his impressive height on the sidelines.
Obtaining Michael Johnson
Looks like Tarzan; plays like Jane.
This adage, at times, is an apt description of Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson. This 6'7", 270-pound behemoth looks as though he eats quarterbacks for breakfast. But his production over his five-year career suggests otherwise.
As a product of Georgia Tech, many Falcons fans were undoubtedly disappointed in Johnson's play the majority of his college career. And I'm sure the majority of Bengals fans would echo that sentiment.
His 11.5-sack performance in 2012 had many convinced that he'd turned a corner in his career, but his 3.5-sack performance this past season really puts things into perspective. Johnson played on one of the most talented lines in the NFL—where he received the least attention from opposing coordinators—yet he's still been inconsistent in his production.
Johnson is a No. 2 end that will demand No. 1 money. If the Falcons can get a "hometown discount" out of him, he'd be fine in the rotation. But if he has to be the primary rusher, there'll be some disappointment in the "Gate City of the South."
Procuring the Services of Branden Albert
Kansas City Chiefs left tackle Branden Albert is a good player. But some are under the impression that he's a franchise player. Those looking to divvy out franchise money to the 29-year-old blindside protector, be prepared for some restless nights—because he's nowhere near a franchise player.
Albert is an athletic player that struggles with counter moves. He's not overly powerful and inconsistent in his technique. It's damning that the Chiefs drafted a tackle with the first-overall pick in last year's draft—instead of sinking money into Albert and addressing another position.
Sadly, some team will overpay Albert as tackles are extremely hard to find. The Falcons shouldn't be that team.
It's time for the Falcons to look for maulers that will drive defenders into the grass like fertilizer. Albert is best served in a zone-blocking scheme where his athleticism takes precedence.
Replacing Gonzalez with Ed Dickson?!
Baltimore Ravens' tight end Ed Dickson has the type of hands that perform as though they were dipped in cement. He gives the name "Ironman" new meaning. You'd have to think that he'd be a liability attempting to deliver a newborn baby.
All jokes aside, the man can't catch.
This is why the Falcons should fight the temptation to sign this physical freak. Make no mistake; Dickson is a fast, move tight end that can work the seams. He just can't seem to catch most passes.
Zing! I'll be here all night, ladies and gentlemen. Well, at least until the end of this slide.
At 6'4" and 255 pounds, Dickson most certainly looks the part, but he's been thoroughly disappointing as a third-round pick out of the University of Oregon. It's no wonder that the lower drafted Dennis Pitta has become a star in Baltimore, while Dickson languishes in virtual obscurity.
And when Dickson had a chance to prove he wasn't a bust last season, when Pitta was lost in the preseason for the majority of the year (hip injury), he went out and caught 25 passes for 273 yards with one touchdown—further etching his name in the lexicon of busts that have hands made of steel.
Don't do it, Falcons...