Bleacher Report Atlanta Falcons Mailbag: 2013 Offseason Kickoff

Scott Carasik@ScottCarasikContributor IIFebruary 8, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 13:  Jacquizz Rodgers #32 of the Atlanta Falcons carries the ball against the Seattle Seahawks during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Georgia Dome on January 13, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

It's been a great season for the Atlanta Falcons, who finished just a few points shy of the Super Bowl. The mailbag is back to answer all of the questions that need addressed this offseason. We've got a great assortment related to the moves that the Falcons can make this offseason.

We lead off with questions from Zach Bahner and Corbin Miles asking about the Falcons RB situation:

@scar988 If Turner is cut, who could be some FA/rookies the Falcons look to target? #BRFalconsMailbag

— Zach Bahner (@ZachBahner_DH) February 7, 2013

@scar988 who do you think we should bring in at RB? Via free agency if so who? Or draft?? #falconsmailbag

— Corbin Miles (@Kor5bin) February 7, 2013

Turner, 30, is probably going to be cut. His cap savings in 2013 will be the $6.9 million that is currently on the books right now as his salary. So, it's all but guaranteed that the Falcons will be looking for a new featured back in 2013. 

There's a ton of free agents out there who could be solid stopgaps, like free agents Rashard Mendenhall, Ahmad Bradshaw or Reggie Bush. However, it makes more sense for the Falcons to attack the position in the middle rounds of the draft with multiple prospects. 

Ideal fits are Stepfan Taylor, Mike Gillislee and Kenjon Barner. They all have a great mix of talent in both rushing and receiving. Taylor is one of my personal favorites in this draft, because he's like a faster Pierre Thomas.

Chris Dooley mentions Stephen Nicholas in his question:

@scar988 No.... Lol jk Who replaces SN at Linebacker if he is released?

— Chris Dooley (@ChrisBD25) February 7, 2013

This is a tough one. Akeem Dent showed that last year he shouldn't be used in coverage or sub packages. However, he's excellent against the run. Stephen Nicholas being released would be a shocker too, but I wouldn't put it past Thomas Dimitroff to do something like that.

Ideal fits would come in the draft. DeVonte Holloman, the undersized Arthur Brown and even Alec Ogletree would be the best fits for Mike Nolan's defensive scheme as a nickel linebacker in sub packages and strong-side linebacker in base sets.

David Cano asks about possible big free agency moves:

@scar988 How bout any chances we can sign a Reggie Bush or a Randy Starks from Miami to bolster our running game and defense?

— David Cano (@DavidVCano) February 7, 2013

Reggie Bush is an interesting fit. The main concern is that he isn't much younger than Michael Turner. He's got maybe two or three seasons left before he takes the giant fall off of a cliff. However, he's probably the ideal fit outside of Bradshaw when it comes to their running scheme.

Randy Starks is another viable option that could make a ton of sense. But, with him, it's going to be all about the money he wants. If he's willing to take a minimal deal for his talents of around two years and $5 million, then it should be a no-brainer. If he wants more, then he will be out of luck with the Falcons.

Ryan Brown asks about the draft:

@scar988 I got one! What position of need has the most depth in this draft... What will be the best player on the board at 30 that we need?

— Ryan Brown (@Ryan_C_Brown) February 7, 2013

The players with the most early depth in this year's class are easily the pass rushers. It wouldn't shock me to see eight first-round pass rushers taken. It also wouldn't be surprising to see talented players last as late as the third round pick for the Falcons.

However, early on, the best player for the Falcons could be anyone from Jesse Williams at defensive tackle to Alex Okafor at defensive end or even Tyler Eifert or Travis Kelce at tight end. It all depends on who the Falcons like early. 

Luis Suarez asks about the defensive line:

@scar988 what options do we have in the defensive line?

— Luis M Suarez (@6FALCONS6) February 7, 2013

Ultimately, the Falcons could go a multitude of ways, including standing pat. I doubt they will do that, though. They need help when it comes to pass rushing and it wouldn't surprise me to see them get a guy in the second round like Chase Thomas before adding another d-lineman in the fifth or sixth round.

At tackle, they are in much better shape. Between Corey Peters, Jonathan Babineaux and Travian Robertson, they have three solid pieces to a rotation. Nonetheless, acquiring a big body to compete with Peria Jerry should be of high priority for the Falcons, as should re-signing Vance Walker.

Aaron Ladd asks about Julio Jones:

We all saw what Julio is possible of in the NFC Championship. What will it take to get him more incorporated into the offense? @scar988

— ⚡Aaron Ladd⚡ (@thatboyladd) February 7, 2013

Julio Jones was a bad, bad man in the 2012 season. Including playoffs, he contributed 96 catches, 1,439 yards and 12 touchdowns to the Falcons this season, capped by an 11-catch, 182-yard, two touchdown performance in the NFC Championship. He will only get better as time goes on and his chemistry with Ryan improves.

He will naturally start to get more targets though. Jones has earned the right to be the No. 2 option in the 2013 season, regardless if Tony Gonzalez comes back or the Falcons bring in a top notch TE. He is the best home run threat on the team and will be schemed for more than Roddy White in 2013.

Matt asks about the best way to attack the offseason:

@scar988 Biggest need best addressed by the draft v. biggest need best addressed by free agency.

— Matt (@mFalcons5) February 7, 2013

In free agency, the Falcons should try and get the best possible players they can without breaking the bank. Ideally, they should try and bring in Michael and Martellus Bennett. Michael is an excellent all-around defensive end who would be an asset for the Falcons' defense under Mike Nolan.

Martellus is a solid tight end who excels in blocking and mid-range routes. The brothers have expressed interest in playing together for the 2013 season and it would be a great move by the Falcons to shore up two huge needs early.

If they decide not to attack free agency, it wouldn't shock me to see them go after a defensive end like Alex Okafor or take one of the top pass rushers who drops. At tight end, Travis Kelce, Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz are a trio that the Falcons should have their crosshairs on.

Knowing how Comrade Dimitroff works, it is very unlikely we see either defensive end or tight end drafted. They seem to be free agency positions that he tries to bring in. However, things are always subject to change, and this could definitely be one of those.

Blake Hudgins asks about the possible 3-4 move:

@scar988 #BRFalconsMailbag do you see us moving to the 3-4 defense and possibly signing a FA pass rusher? Linebacker? Or rely on draft?

— Blond Barbarian (@BlakeHudgins) February 7, 2013

On the move to a 3-4, it looks unlikely. The Falcons are very happy with the Mike Nolan multiple front defense that utilizes the 3-4, 4-3, 5-2, 2-4-5, and 3-3-5 as the base sets depending on the opponent. It won't change much in 2013, but the Falcons will have much better pieces.

If it were up to me, I'd bring in a free agent pass rusher, draft a pass rusher and a linebacker and add depth through the rest of the draft. As far as a free agent linebacker is concerned, I don't see it happening because of the lack of talent at linebacker in free agency for the Falcons biggest weakness: covering tight ends, a flaw that proved fatal throughout the playoffs.

Accidental Scholar asks about Brent Grimes:

@scar988 if Grimes is allowed to walk, does this change ur draft outlook, or would Falcons go after a FA?

— Accidental Scholar (@Prof_DL) February 7, 2013

At this point, not at all. I have been projecting Brent Grimes to be at most a "prove-it" deal for the 2013 season if he sticks with Atlanta. Unfortunately, he's likely to walk, and it seems like the Falcons would rather keep Chris Owens and Dominique Franks on the roster than him.

As far as FA is concerned, I could definitely see the Falcons cutting Dunta Robinson as he would save $6 million in cap space. With the savings if they can keep William Moore, Chris Owens and bring in a couple of key reserves like say, Jordan Babineaux, or re-sign Chris Hope.

Jon Barrow asks an interesting question:

@scar988 could quizz be our feature back in 2013?

— jon barrow (@Barrow_J) February 7, 2013

As far as size is concerned, I want to say no. However, Warrick Dunn wasn't as put together as Jacquizz Rodgers is. Rodgers is a stockier, quicker player than Dunn was. He's more comparable to a poor-man's Maurice Jones-Drew. 

Could he be the main back? Yes.

Is he a 200-plus touch back? No.

I would give him the main role in the offense only if the Falcons can't find someone who is a better player than he is with more prototypical size.

Ryan Brown hits the mailbag, again asking about the returner situation for the final question of the day:

@scar988 I know you've takin all your mailbag ?s.. But I think we'll take a KR/PR at some point, do you think it'll be a WR or DB depth guy?

— Ryan Brown (@Ryan_C_Brown) February 8, 2013

Honestly, I don't think that matters as much as the talent they are at returner. Atlanta could take a tailback who is a beastly returner as well. I agree that Atlanta would take a returner, though, to at least compete at earning a roster spot as both punt and kick return specialist.

If I had to guess, I'd say they are someone who can play the slot receiver role and compete with Harry Douglas for that wide receiver/return specialist role.

Thanks everyone for your questions! If you are interested in getting into the next mailbag, just tweet @scar988 with the hashtag #BRFalconsMailbag, and it will make it into the next article.

All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus's Premium StatsESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All contract information is courtesy Spotrac and Rotoworld.

Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek, runs the NFL Draft Website and hosts Kvetching Draftniks Radio.


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