Atlanta Falcons: What Is The Plan At Free Safety?
The new Falcons’ head coach Dan Quinn values a lot the free safety position in his defensive schemes. No wonder why the Seahawks’ defense was arguably the best in the league during his tenure, with 4-time All-Pro safety Earl Thomas playing in the secondary as a true centerfielder. But from now on, who will be his man in Atlanta?
The Free Agency opened five days ago. No moves have been made to fill the hole at the free safety position. It is not the time to panic, the front-office must have a plan but the options are shrinking quickly.
Charles Godfrey would be the starter at free safety if the season were to begin tomorrow. It is not good. The 7-year veteran safety has been re-signed to a 1-year, $1.200.000 contract a week prior to the start of Free Agency. He was picked up from the streets during last season after being released by the Carolina Panthers. He had issues getting back to form following an Achilles injury in 2013.
It is very unlikely that Godfrey will be the starter alongside William Moore in 2015. He should provide depth, nothing more.
Thomas Dimitroff took a look at the market and it appears the Falcons’ General Manager does not want to spend too much money in free agents this year. Darian Stewart visited Flowery Branch but the former Baltimore Raven ended up signing with Denver. The Falcons were also interested in Ron Parker, who ultimately re-signed for 5 years and $25.000.000 with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Rahim Moore and Antrel Rolle were possible fallback options. Unfortunately, none of them are available as respectively Houston and Chicago snatched them out of Atlanta’s hand. New England Patriots’ Devin McCourty was probably never in talks to sign with Atlanta.
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What are the options left?
If the Falcons look towards Free Agency to upgrade the free safety position, one familiar name stands out: Dwight Lowery. The 29-year old veteran played for the Falcons in 2014 and realized a solid season, ending with 60 tackles and 2 interceptions. His 1-year deal expired and the talks have been surprisingly ice cold between the franchise and the free safety since then.
This silence probably means Dwight Lowery is not in the plans of the new coaching staff. It would be wise to call him back on a cheap deal if no other franchise signs him. He has proved he can be a reliable piece when the injuries stay away.
If the Falcons look towards the NFL Draft, they might be disappointed. The 2015 safety class is particularly weak. Alabama’s Landon Collins seems to be the only immediate starter at the next level, projected to be picked in the first round. It is highly unlikely that he will be drafted by the Falcons. Louisville’s Gerod Holliman, Utah’s Eric Rowe or Arizona State’s Damarious Randall could be interesting projects to select during Day 2.
Starting a rookie project would not be a good idea in such a vital position for Dan Quinn’s defense. Dwight Lowery remains the best option, one week into Free Agency.