After a long hiatus, I am glad to be back on PSB! That having been said, let’s get down to business. The Atlanta Falcons made some interesting moves prior to the free agency period beginning by releasing former feature back Michael Turner, as well as sack-machine John Abraham. Both were aging, and Turner in particular seemed to be becoming less and less a part of the game scheme. Abraham was still the leading sacker, but Mike Nolan (defensive co-ordinator) appears to be going in a different direction. Barring someone else signing Abe, it is still possible the Falcons could bring him back at a reduced salary.
As far as Turner goes, his production declined immensely last year, but it isn’t for a lack of trying. A beast coming out of the backfield, if good old Michael got through the defensive line, he was nearly unstoppable. However, with scat-back Jaquizz Rodgers emerging as the go-to guy, and Jason Snelling working in either the fullback or power running back, Turner’s days were numbered.
Now, let’s look at what has happened since.
Atlanta first re-signed Sam Baker, which is a relatively minor move, but gives the Falcons a workable Tackle to shore up their overall depth.
The bigger moves would follow…
First, the team convinced guaranteed Hall Of Fame tight-end Tony Gonzalez to re-consider retirement, which was all but guaranteed. Citing fan support, good money and wanting to take another run at the Super Bowl, Gonzalez is coming back to again be Matt Ryan’s safety blanket. He’s a clutch player in all facets of his game. Blocking, receiving and simply making spectacular plays, Gonz is the best player ever at that position, and challenges every other player currently in Canton.
Next, the Falcons went out and filled the hole left by Turner’s departure by signing Steven Jackson away from the St. Louis Rams. Jackson brings a different skill set to the team, as he also has good hands for plays like swing passes. Last year, he caught the ball 38 times for 321 yards. A former first-round pick, Jackson has had 8 consecutive 1000 yard seasons, and brings an interesting element to the backfield.
Now, let’s talk about what needs to happen next…
First and foremost, the team needs to get Brent Grimes under contract, as he is a top-level corner in the league. While somewhat understated, Grimey gets the job done effectively, and prior to his season ending injury, appeared to only get better.
Secondly, they need to find a pass-rushing end to replace John Abraham. The Falcons aren’t a team known for playing overly aggressive defensive schemes, but they do have some good pass-rushing players like Sean Weatherspoon, who has blazing speed from the linebacker position. But adding a bona fide pass rusher like Osi Umenyora would be absolutely what the doctor ordered.
That’s it for part 1 of my free agency evaluation. Stay tuned for more! And as an aside, I am glad to be back!
About the Author
Written by Dan Rakusan
A huge Rangers (NHL), Falcons (NFL), PGA Tour and soccer fan, I have been writing semi-professionally for about 7 years now. I try to impart information with some degree of humour, and always have an opinion. PSB is another feather in my cap, and am really proud of the team assembled here, and look forward to the long-term journey PSB is embarking on in terms of establishing itself as the best sports blogging collective on the net! Look for articles such as 4-Play, Rangers blogs and PGA Tour updates, along with my NFL handicapping service!