Atlanta Falcons Free Agency: 5 Players Left on the Market That Could Help
The NFL free agency is in full force and many teams are looking to fill big needs before the 2012 draft.
The Atlanta Falcons have some glaring needs on both sides of the ball, and with the Falcons down a couple picks in this upcoming draft—due to the Julio Jones trade last year—the front office should look to free agents to fill some of these voids.
5. RB Tim Hightower
At first glance this move may not make since. I mean, the Falcons already have a great running back in Michael Turner and just drafted Jacquizz Rodgers last season, but when examined at a deeper level this move makes total sense.
The NFL is changing into a running back-by-committee league and a tandem of Turner and Hightower would be a duo that would pose huge problems for opposing defenses. Matt Ryan would sure like this move as some of the offensive pressure would be reduced from him.
The Falcons front office should seriously consider this move.
4. ILB E.J. Henderson
The Falcons defense took a hit this free agency when starting ILB Curtis Lofton signed with New Orleans. E.J. Henderson is a great talent who would easily fill the hole left by Lofton. Henderson has been injury prone throughout his career, but when healthy he is one of the top inside linebackers in the NFL.
Lofton was one the Falcons' leading tacklers during his stint, but there would be no drop-off with Henderson. The Saints stole a gem from the Falcons, now the Falcons have to retaliate with a big pickup.
Henderson could be that guy.
3. OL Kareem McKenzie
Kareem McKenzie has enjoyed having one of the most illustrious careers as an offensive lineman as he has had the opportunity to block for Curtis Martin and Tiki Barber. At age 32, his shelf life is starting to expire, but why not take a chance on McKenzie? At worst, he can mentor younger linemen and add depth to the tackle position. At best, he will become the anchor of the offensive line and protect Matt Ryan's backside.
McKenzie will want to play for a contender and the Falcons are going to be one of the biggest in the NFC. This seems like it would be a good fit, at least on paper.
2. OL Vernon Carey
The Falcons have glaring needs on the offensive line, and Vernon Carey is one of the most versatile linemen left in free agency. He can play both tackle and guard positions and will fit right in for any of these positions for the Falcons. Carey is 30 years old and on his last leg in the league but can still produce at a high level for a couple of seasons.
Atlanta struggled to establish any sort of offensive identity last season and got flat-out exposed by the future Super Bowl champions. A great pass rush always will beat a great offensive line, but adding depth in Carey will no doubt improve the Falcons in both the running game and passing game.
Keep Matt Ryan healthy, and the Falcons will have a good as shot as anyone in the NFC next season.
1. CB Lardarius Webb
Lardarius Webb is arguably the best defensive back left in free agency. The cover corner out of Nicholls State is the only player in NFL history to earn the conference awards of Offensive Player of the Week, Defensive Player of the Week and Special Teams Player of the Week in a single week.
He has proved he can do it all, largely in part of his great speed.
With the Falcons losing their special teams returner (Eric Weems to the Chicago Bears), Webb would be able to fill that role and step in and bolster a struggling secondary. Webb will demand some money, but he is worth a hefty sum. If the Falcons want to spend the money, go for it—ot will only help.