With the 2017 offseason upon us, it’s time to take a sneak peek into the Atlanta Falcons’ strategy moving forward.
Sunday marked the first week without meaningful football for the next seven months. I know, it’s depressing. But not as depressing as thinking about the Falcons Super LI collapse, so we’re not going to do that.
Instead, we’re going to move on and think about the 2017 offseason because it is officially upon us. So that begs the question, what can we expect from the Super Bowl runners-up this summer?
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Thomas Dimitroff stated this week there are very few holes on this Falcons roster. And he’s absolutely right. Thanks to superb drafting over the past two years, the building blocks are in place to be perennial contenders.
On offense, the only notable free agents in the starting lineup are Chris Chester and Patrick DiMarco. Both were valuable contributors in 2016, but neither will break the team’s back if not resigned.
Looking at the looming free agents on the defensive side paints an even rosier picture of the team’s outlook. Veterans Dwight Freeney and Jonathan Babineaux may have played their last down in the NFL.
While their leadership will be missed, the new blood consisting of Vic Beasley and Grady Jarrett are poised to take over.
As you can see, the Falcons are not in a position where they must resign any of their current crop of 2017 free agents. With less than $30 million on the books to spend, the front office has one of two options.
Dimitroff and company can add to their strong nucleus with a splashy acquisition or they can get a head start on retaining their homegrown talent. Based on a recent article from D. Orlando Ledbetter, the GM gave an inclination toward the latter rather than the former.
If the Robert Alford or Ryan Schraeder extensions were any indication, expect those deals to get done sooner than later. And don’t expect them to come cheap either. Trufant, Ryan, Freeman, and Matthews all figure to be among the highest paid at their respective positions.
With that said, the Falcons will be left with very little to spend on the open market. So for those hoping for Johnathan Hankins or Bennie Logan in Atlanta, it may be time to lower your expectations. If Malik Jackson received $85 million over six years last offseason, Hankins or Logan will surely reach agreement on a similar number in an ever-inflated market.
There is a silver lining, though, in all of that heart breaking news.
This year’s defensive line class is the deepest position group in the 2017 draft. Even with picking 31st in the first round, this pool is deep enough to deliver an impact first year starter at that juncture.
The Falcons plan to stick with what brought them to the dance. If they continue to draft well and retain those critical to their success, the Falcons will be knocking on Lombardi’s door for the foreseeable future.