The Falcons still have some holes to fill, but are likely to try to address them in the draft and by signing undrafted free agents.
But there are several high profile free agents still out on the market. The major problem is that they are used to making top dollar in the league. (Here’s why defensive end Jared Allen isn’t on this list.)
The Falcons would have to be certain that the new vets would not be disgruntled coming in at a lower salary and determine if they’d be willing to accept smaller roles.
Perhaps, they Falcons could sell them on being the modern era “Over the Hill Gang.”
Here are five and why they would or wouldn’t fit with the Falcons.
Champ Bailey: He would fit nicely if he was give free safety a shot. The Falcons were able to get one season out of Asante Samuel after the Eagles thought he was washed up. Perhaps Bailey, the former UGA star fresh off his first Super Bowl appearance, could help the Falcons for a season while they bring in a young safety they take in the draft (Psst: Washington State’s Deone Bucannon or Vanderbilt’s Kenny Ladler). He could also play inside as the nickel back.
Steve Smith: The Falcons want to get tougher. Smith, pound for pound, is perhaps the toughest player in the league. He could play in the slot in a four wide receiver formations next to Julio Jones or Roddy White, with Douglas in the opposite slot. The Falcons have 80 catches to replace with Tony Gonzalez retired and could do so in four-WRs sets if they signed Smith.
Julius Peppers: Peppers has 119 career sacks and likely hasn’t forgotten how to get to the quarterback. At 34, he could be a designated press rusher opposite of Umenyiora.
Devin Hester: He has returned 13 punts and five kickoffs for touchdowns over his eight seasons with the Chicago Bears. The Falcons’ return game has lacked punch since Eric Weems left in 2011.
Eric Decker: He’s started 44 of 62 NFL games and has caught more than 80 passes in each of the past two seasons. At 6-foot-3, he’d be another big target for Matt Ryan and could be insurance against Julio Jones’ foot injury and for Roddy White, who’ll turn 33 in November.