The Atlanta Falcons are a team in a very interesting situation entering the 2012 season. They're an organization who have been frustratingly close to making a deep playoff run, but recently their post-seasons have been derailed rather quickly. They made a big splash in the 2011 draft to trade up for Julio Jones, and as such lack a first round pick this year. Therefore, free agency meant a great deal to the Falcons as they looked to get the team some more talent quickly, and ensure they didn't need to rely on the draft to patch their holes.
Best Signing: John Abraham- 3 years, $21 million
Once rumored to be in the hunt for Mario Williams the Falcons were never really a possibility to clear the cap room needed to make such a deal. In the end they ensured they kept their #1 pass rusher for another three years. Abraham is still extremely effective at his age, and Atlanta ensured they didn't overspend to keep him. A three year deal isn't one they will be regretting, and it keeps their pass rush consistent, though they need to make improvements.
More after the jump
Good Signing: Lofa Tatupu- 2 years, $5.75 million
Tatupu went from being one of the best linebackers in the NFL early in his career, to falling off the face of the earth in Seattle and now emerging in Atlanta. Despite being a little banged up at times he's been a reliable player who has a high football IQ. The Falcons were wise in signing him to a relatively cheap deal, and more importantly allowing them to delay the need to draft a LB early.
Good Signings: A slew of 1-year deals for their FAs
QB Chris Redman, TE Tony Gonzalez and Antoine Smith were all brought back on one year deals. With the exception of Gozalez these are depth signings, but represent good players who keep their roster balanced.
Good Signing: Thomas DeCoud- 5 years, $17.5 million
What makes this deal so great is the fact DeCoud agreed to just $4 million in guaranteed money. This salary-heavy contract will give Atlanta a lot of latitude in the future, and they're not overpaying him.
Worst Signing: Brent Grimes (franchise tag)- 1 year, $10.6 million
Grimes is a solid CB, but they are paying far too much for him. I know this is a likely move to buy another year of negotiating time, but I can't help but feel the better move would be to have offered FA Brandon Carr a large contract and take some of the money they're paying Grimes.
Nnamdi Asomugha and Darrelle Revis broke the back for CB salaries, and Atlanta is paying for this move. If they let Grimes walk they would have immediate issues, but that $10.6 million could have been the difference between Jon Abraham and Mario Williams.
This was a solid week for the Falcons who made a lot of solid signings without drastically overpaying. They may not be making a huge splash, but they're keeping an already good team strong. The question will be whether they can get over the hump.