Like every NFL team who will be diving into the busy 2016 offseason, there will be several moves made in the coming weeks that will help shape the Atlanta Falcons heading into training camp and into the regular season.
the Falcons’ biggest free agent heading into the offseason was supposed to be the one, the only, Julio Jones but general manager Thomas Dimitroff, owner Arthur Blank and head coach Dan Quinn decided to lock him up before the 2015 season ever began.
With that massive transaction out of the way, the Falcons have several players that have expiring contracts at the moment but none of them will make-or-break the team going forward. Let’s take a look at who these players are according to Spotrac.com.
If you are a novice when it comes to contracts, restricted free agents and unrestricted free agents then here’s a quick break down.
Unrestricted free agents are players with expired contracts that have completed four or more accrued seasons of service and are free to sign with any franchise.
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So, when looking at free agents, just know that it’s a lot more likely that your team signs an unrestricted free agent rather than a restricted one.
With all of that being said, the Falcons have four notable unrestricted free agents. Those three players are outside linebacker O’brien Schofield, current starting right guard Chris Chester, defensive end Kroy Biermann and defensive end Adrian Clayborn.
Of those four only three should be resigned with that being Schofiled, Clayborn and Chester. Schofield did a wonderful job in his first year with the Falcons and added a much-needed energy boost to a rather quite Falcons’ defense. He is well worth a new contact and will get it without a doubt. Chester is 32 years of age and isn’t a long-term solution for the Falcons but did a terrific job in 2015. He’s worth another 1-year contract for the right price.
Clayborn had a decent year and showed the Falcons that he can in fact stay healthy and produce when he is in the right defensive package. Clayborn had three sacks on the year with minimal snaps and would be worth another 1-year contact to see how he progresses as Quinn builds a better defense.
Biermann on the other hand is as good as gone. Fans turned their back on Biermann a couple of years ago and haven’t even thought twice about changing their mind. Biermann will always be known as the guy that “almost” makes the play but never does. It’s time for Biermann and the Falcons to go their separate ways.
Other unrestricted free agents that are worthy of a new contact would be linebacker Phillip Wheeler and possibly tight end Tony Moeaki. Neither are them will get much playing time if they do get new contacts but they both played well while they were on the football field.
As far as the restricted free agents go on the Falcons, every one of them have a fairly good shot at being on the Falcons’ 53-man roster at the start of next season. Yes, that even includes linebacker Paul Worrilow. Right tackle Ryan Schrader was voted as the No.1 ranked RT by PFF and linebacker Nate Stupar had a very good 2015 season on both special teams and defense.
Worrilow’s future is up in the air at this point, but don’t jump to the conclusion that the Falcons will let him walk. Worrilow isn’t a longterm solution at middle linebacker, but the Falcons might not be able to find anyone all that much better than him to start in 2016.
The Falcons could go both ways with Worrilow. They could let him walk and pick up an extra draft pick to replace one that they lost due to noise-gate or they could resign him for a decent price and see what happens in the 2016 NFL draft.
Worrilow has led the Falcons in tackles in each of his first three years but failed to reach the 100-tackle mark in 2015.
Luckily for the Falcons, there aren’t any major free agents on their roster that they will have to deal with in the coming weeks. The team will be able to focus most of their attention on who they will want to go after in free agency and who they will want to draft in late April.