5 Impending Free Agents the Atlanta Falcons Must Re-Sign

Scott Carasik@ScottCarasikContributor IIDecember 28, 2013

5 Impending Free Agents the Atlanta Falcons Must Re-Sign

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    Kevin Cone (15) and Drew Davis (19) are two free agents who will likely be brought back.
    Kevin Cone (15) and Drew Davis (19) are two free agents who will likely be brought back.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Despite being 4-11 this season, the Falcons do have some talent that they should retain this offseason. In fact, five of Atlanta's 14 free agents stand out above the rest.

    And while I'd love to throw Tony Gonzalez into this list, he's 100 percent sure he's going to retire, and the Falcons are making a huge show of this being his final game against Carolina.

    So outside of the greatest tight end of all time, here are the five guys whom Atlanta needs to make sure they bring back.

Tight End Chase Coffman

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    Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

    This seems counterintuitive because of how little Chase Coffman has played this year. However, Coffman had an excellent preseason and could, if kept around, develop some good chemistry with Matt Ryan in taking over Tony Gonzalez's role in the offense.

    Atlanta would be wise to see if the former 2009 third-round pick could finally live up to his billing in Atlanta. The contract he would sign wouldn't have to be ridiculously expensive, as he could sign a two-year version of a "prove it" deal.

    If Coffman proves that he's a guy who can contribute 50 catches, 500 yards and five touchdowns, then the Falcons will have found a receiving tight end who can combine with the blocking prowess of Levine Toilolo.

    Projected Contract Structure

    two years, $2.0 million total.

    $100,000 signing bonus

    Year Salary Bonus Proration Total Cap Hit 
    2014$730,000.00 $50,000.00$780,000.00 
    2015$1,170,000.00 $50,000.00$1,220,000.00 

    2013 PFF Grades-0.6 Overall, -0.7 Pass, 0.0 Run Block, 0.0 Screen Block, 0.0 Pass Block, +0.1 Penalty

    2013 Stats: 10 Games Played

    Career Stats: 21 Games Played, 4 Catches, 42 Yards

Wide Receiver Drew Davis

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    Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    The Falcons may have found their legitimate long-term replacement for Harry Douglas. When it comes to a player who sees few snaps but is a great special teams player, Drew Davis takes the cake. And, as a receiver, he's made the most of his limited opportunities, with 12 receptions and an impressive 18.0 yards-per-catch average.

    When he's in, it's almost always going to be as a guy who's blocking on a screen or nudging an edge-rusher inside on a route that most tight ends would normally run. But his role looks to finally have been defined after two seasons with the team.

    His price tag won't be ridiculously expensive as exclusive rights free agents like Davis only require a one year offer for the league minimum at their experience. So expect Davis to come back to Atlanta for another season in the red and black.

    Projected Contract Structure

    one year, $645,000 total on an exclusive rights free-agent contract.

    Year Salary Bonus Proration Total Cap Hit 
    2014$645,000.00 $0.00$645,000.00 

    2013 PFF Grades+5.2 Overall, -1.8 Pass, +4.5 Screen Block, +1.7 Pass Block, +0.8 Penalty, +2.0 Special Teams

    2013 Stats: 15 Games Played, 12 Catches, 216 Yards, 2 Touchdowns, 9 tackles

    Career Stats: 31 Games Played, 16 Catches, 256 Yards, 3 Touchdowns, 15 tackles

Center Joe Hawley

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Centers as a whole don't make a ton of money. Centers who rarely see action in their first three seasons at center make even less. However, in the past six games, Joe Hawley has shown that he's everything Todd McClure was in Atlanta.

    He's a good run-blocker who understands how to point out defenders and get his line set before a running play. He's also someone who acts like a heat-seeking missile on the second level when he isn't helping on double-teams.

    Add in his solid pass-blocking, and the Falcons just might have something in the fourth-year pro. He also seems to have the leadership and nastiness the Falcons have been missing from the position all year. He's shown he's more than worth the same type of contract that McClure signed after his fourth year.

    Projected Contract Structure

    Four years, $7.5 million total.

    $2 million signing bonus, first year of salary guaranteed.

    Year Salary Bonus Proration Total Cap Hit 
    2014$1,000,000.00 $500,000.00$1,500,000.00 
    2015$1,250,000.00 $500,000.00$1,750,000.00 
    2016$1,500,000.00 $500,000.00$2,000,000.00 
    2017$1,750,000.00 $500,000.00$2,250,000.00 

    2013 PFF Grades+4.7 Overall, -1.1 Pass Block, 0.0 Screen Block, +4.5 Run Block, +1.3 Penalty

    2013 Stats: 15 Games Played, 6 Games Started, 0 sacks, 2 hits, and 9 hurries allowed on 479 snaps

    Career Stats: 52 Games Played, 18 Games Started, 5 sacks, 6 hits, and 20 hurries allowed on 1,460 snaps

Cornerback Robert McClain

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    Robert McClain was another Falcon who didn't have a great season in 2013. He regressed from a promising 2012, though it could have been worse had Atlanta not upgraded the opposite cornerback position by replacing last year's starter, Dunta Robinson.

    Expecting to field a better pass rush in 2014, the Falcons would be able to help McClain by putting him into more playmaking situations. This would definitely include his pass-rushing abilities, as he has shown great value as a blitzer in 2013.

    Since he's a restricted free agent, the Falcons wouldn't have to spend an arm and a leg to keep him. However, they would be wise to give him a second-round tender, as he's shown he's worth well more than a seventh-round pick.

    Projected Contract Structure

    One year, $2.02 million total (second-round RFA offer).

    Year Salary Bonus Proration Total Cap Hit 
    2014$2,020,000.00 $0.00$2,020,000.00 

    2013 PFF Grades-1.3 Overall, -0.8 Run Defense, +0.3 Pass Rush, -3.0 Pass Coverage, +2.3 Penalty

    2013 Stats: 15 Games Played, 63 Tackles, 1 Tackles for Loss, 1.0 Sacks, 2 QB Hits, 2 QB Hurries, 2 Fumbles Forced, 1 Fumble Recovered, 5 Pass Deflections, 16 Punt Returns, 159 Yards

    Career Stats: 46 Games Played, 140 Tackles, 2 Tackles for Loss, 1.0 Sacks, 3 QB Hits, 4 QB Hurries, 1 Interception, 2 Fumbles Forced, 3 Fumbles Recovered, 16 Pass Deflections, 16 Punt Returns, 159 Yards

Defensive Tackle Corey Peters

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    Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

    Very rarely do teams like Atlanta let guys like Corey Peters leave in the offseason. He's 26 years old, just had a great season for a defensive tackle and looks to be a key member for the core of the defense. And yes, he does have an Achilles injury from the Monday night game with San Francisco.

    However, the recovery time for an injury like that is anywhere from four months to over a year according to Dr. Dave Siebert here at Bleacher Report. So, that puts the average anywhere from five-to-seven months.

    Atlanta would be wise to lock down the talented all-around defensive tackle to a long term deal despite the injury. Add in the fact that guys like Brent Grimes and Terrell Suggs are Pro Bowl players just one season after an Achilles injury, and it doesn't look like it's as severe of an injury as it once was.

    Projected Contract Structure

    Four years, $19 million total.

    $4 million signing bonus, first year of salary guaranteed.

    Year Salary Bonus Proration Total Cap Hit 
    2014$3,000,000.00 $1,000,000.00$3,000,000.00 
    2015$3,500,000.00 $1,000,000.00$3,500,000.00 
    2016$4,000,000.00 $1,000,000.00$4,000,000.00 
    2017$4,500,000.00 $1,000,000.00$4,500,000.00 

    2013 PFF Grades: +5.8 Overall, +7.8 Run Defense, -5.5 Pass Rush, +2.0 Pass Coverage, +1.5 Penalty

    2013 Stats: 15 Games Played, 46 Tackles, 1 Tackles for Loss, 5.0 Sacks, 2 QB Hits, 8 QB Hurries, Interceptions, Fumbles Forced, Fumbles Recovered, 2 Pass Deflections

    Career Stats: 56 Games Played, 120 Tackles, 6 Tackles for Loss, 9.0 Sacks, 5 QB Hits, 49 QB Hurries, 1 Interception, 1 Fumble Forced, 1 Fumble Recovered, 7 Pass Deflections, 1 Defensive Touchdown

    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 NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.

    Follow @ScottCarasik