Atlanta Falcons offseason positional expectations: Safety/specialist
The Atlanta Falcons need to do something in free agency.
Perhaps the biggest question the Falcons will have to face when it comes to retaining talent this off-season will come from the safety position. As it stands the team does not have a starter on the roster.
Keanu Neal is headed to free agency along with Damontae Kazee and Sharrod Neasman.
Neal has been a fan favorite since he was drafted and his immediate contributions as a rookie in 2016 on the run to the super bowl. Known for being a hard hitter and an impact player in the run game he brings a ton of value as an enforcer from the strong safety position.
Kazee was drafted in 2017, while he didn’t see much playing time as a rookie, he was thrust into a starting role in 2018 when Ricardo Allen went down with an injury. He was tied for the league lead with seven interceptions and was a big play waiting to happen at free safety.
He has since been up and down and moved around from safety to nickel corner. While he still tends to make big plays, three interceptions in 2019, he can also be a liability in coverage as he looks to make that splash play. His 2020 season was cut short by injury after only 4 games.
Neasman has played well when given the opportunity but was unable to secure a starting role under the previous coaching staff. His lack of playing time has been a point of criticism from Falcons fans for several years. If Dean Pees likes what he sees he should be brought back on what will probably be a vet minimum deal.
The Atlanta Falcons Should have options in free agency.
While the Falcons should start by looking at the three players above to fill this group there is plenty of outside talent to look at.
Like most positions this off-season, the Falcons will not be able to spend a ton of money on top free agents without severely hampering their option for the rest of the roster.
That should rule out guys like LaMarcus Joyner, Karl Joseph, and Anthony Harris.
At free safety, Jaquiski Tartt and Tre Boston are interesting options to keep an eye on. Both can be starters but will be at the upper end of what the Falcons can afford. Configuring multiyear deals to move the cap hit later in the contract could get it done though.
For strong safety, there are vets available like Bradley McDougal, Duron Harmon, and Andrew Sendejo. They should all be affordable, and it comes down to whether or not the Falcons front office prefers any of their skill sets of Neal.
Ultimately free agency should be spent on in-house talent and maybe a cheap depth signing or two.