Atlanta Falcons: Buying or Selling Latest Buzz in the Free-Agency Rumor Mill
Can you believe how fast the year is moving thus far, Atlanta Falcons fans?
Free agency is now upon us and before we know it the draft will be as well. Having nearly $26 million in cap space, according to Spotrac.com, the Falcons are getting ready to grease the skids for a return back to the upper-echelon of teams in the NFL.
This market has a great mix of veterans with name value (just like Atlanta loves), young rising stars and diamonds in the rough. The Falcons have multiple needs along both lines of scrimmage, safety, tight end and running back.
Let's take a look at a few rumors floating around prior to the start of free agency on Tuesday, March 11.
Major Interest in Guard Jon Asamoah
According to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post, the Falcons are extremely interested in signing Kansas City Chiefs guard Jon Asamoah. The connection between Asamoah and the Falcons stems from him being drafted by assistant general manager Scott Pioli when the latter was the general manger in Kansas City.
Asamoah would be a wonderful signing for the Falcons as he is just a flat-out better player than potential starter Peter Konz. He's an athlete that performs well in the pull-and-trap game, but he has also improved his ability to anchor down in pass protection.
He'll battle to, and through, the whistle and seemingly goes hard on a snap-by-snap basis.
As bad as the edges were for the Falcons offensive line, it can be argued that the interior portion of the line performed substantially worse. The Falcons can't afford to go into the year potentially relying on Konz at right guard. Adding Asamoah would solidify that position.
Now, for the rest of the line…
Keen on Champ?
Chalk this one up to the Falcons simply not getting it.
ESPN's Adam Schefter mentioned the Falcons as a possible landing spot for the recently released Champ Bailey—formerly of the Denver Broncos. And in typical Atlanta fashion, fans are salivating at the thought of landing the future Hall of Fame cornerback.
But this is just plain goofy on all sorts of levels.
Bailey, who will turn 36 in June, is coming off a year where he played in just five games (three starts) due to a foot injury suffered in the preseason. But before that, he was seen getting torched on deep balls by Baltimore Ravens receiver Torrey Smith in an upset loss in the playoffs.
And after the injury he was once again seen getting torched, most notably by generic slot receivers for the Seattle Seahawks, in Denver's blowout loss in the Super Bowl. It was long rumored that the Broncos wanted Bailey to consider a switch to safety to extend his career with the team, but Bailey balked at the idea, as told to The Denver Post (h/t to CBS Sports).
So instead of doing what it took to help his Super Bowl team—who was in need of help at the safety position due to a rash of injuries—Bailey decided he was too good to be "demoted" in his mind.
But now he'll help a team he's not familiar with? Haven't we had enough of these old diva players, Atlanta?
And haven't we had enough of not having young, explosive talent on the team? We desperately need to get out of this mode of clamoring for name-value players that are in the twilight of their careers.
The Falcons were 4-12 due to a lack of explosive talent and injuries. So you mean to tell me that adding a 36-year-old player who has undoubtedly diminished as an elite athlete and is coming off a serious injury would be an ideal add—because he will provide leadership?
Not to mention you may ask him to switch to a position he may not be good at (as if he's still good at corner)?
Why not add a player like former St. Louis Rams corner Cortland Finnegan who can provide leadership, toughness and is still in his prime?
Of course Atlanta will go down this road. While they're at it, why not see if Moses Malone is available to be an Atlanta Hawk as well? This is not an attack on Champ, as he's one of my favorite players ever; it's merely shedding light that we have a certain mindset here that needs to be examined.
You know the type of team Bailey would be good for?
He'd be absolutely perfect for the team that he just got cut from, a team that is literally one or two players away from a Super Bowl victory.
But even they don't want him.
Atlanta needs a plethora of players and is maybe two seasons away from being a true Super Bowl contender. By the time we are ready to be in the Super Bowl we will then need another player to replace Champ.
Please, just get that player now.
Getting Rid of Osi?
According to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com, the Falcons have asked defensive end Osi Umenyiora to take a pay cut to remain with the team. When you consider that Umenyiora is due only $3.5 million dollars, at a premium position, you can plainly see how Atlanta felt about the season the veteran had after signing as a free agent.
Speaking of, his former team, the New York Giants, reportedly has interest in a reunion if he is released by Atlanta, according to Giants' beat writer Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger. Umenyiora led the Falcons in sacks with 7.5 but was a huge disappointment trying to fill the shoes of former star end John Abraham.
Many fans blame Umenyiora's insipid season on a perceived lack of talent surrounding him. Those that do didn't see his previous season, where he got six sacks on a stacked Giants line. The Falcons have a multi-scheme defense that requires versatility and the ability to play in space.
Neither description would aptly describe Umenyiora these days as he's just no longer the athlete he once was. He'll be 33 years old next season, and that fact showed itself on multiple occasions last season watching him operate in space.
Umenyiora should decline the pay cut and go back to New York. Toward the end of the season he was being used as a nickel rusher and his presence would just take snaps away from a young player that could be gaining the experience for when it's time for the Falcons to procure the Lombardi Trophy in a couple of seasons.
Greg A. Bedard of MMQB.SI.com thinks Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Jason Hatcher would be a good fit in Atlanta. Hatcher is the absolute truth. At 6'6", 299 pounds, Hatcher is a perfect fit for a multi-scheme operation like the one Atlanta runs.
The Cowboys used him at nose tackle and defensive end in their 3-4-based scheme for years until he was allowed to be a one-gap penetrating defensive tackle in their new 4-3-based Tampa 2 scheme they unveiled last season—which resulted in a breakout season of 34 tackles and 11 sacks.
If the Falcons are unable to sign incumbent starter Jonathan Babineaux, Hatcher would be an even better replacement. Hatcher is the best interior pass-rusher available, and his presence would lead to more production from the edges as he flushes the quarterback from the pocket.
It makes too much sense to happen.
There's not much certainty regarding the future of Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd. He's widely considered to be the premier safety in this free-agent class and will have a ton of suitors…we believe.
Verdict: Selling…No, buying! Wait!?
Both teams are posturing and will probably both be at his house the minute they can actually talk to him. I wouldn't be surprised to see them both sign him to a split contract where he plays half the season for each team!
But Falcons fans are undoubtedly following the situation as he has risen to be the No. 1 priority among fans, despite the team's horrific offensive and defensive lines. ESPN's Vaughn McClure is thinking the Falcons are afraid of Byrd's price tag as well.
No interest expressed from Falcons in terms of FS Jairus Byrd just yet, according to source. Price tag will be a concern.— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) March 9, 2014
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