Editor’s note: Prior to the start of the new league year on March 10, AJC.Com is counting down the top unrestricted free agents the Atlanta Falcons will have to decide on this offseason. At the combine, general manager Thomas Dimitroff stated that team was close to signing kicker Matt Bryant and that talks have started with linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, special teamer Eric Weems and nose tackle Corey Peters.
FLOWERY BRANCH — Now, that all of the team executives are back from the scouting combine, the roster-retooling is set to commence.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn, who has control over the 53-man roster, has told his assistant coaches that the defense must get faster. Slow and physical doesn’t work for him. As everyone has heard a few times, he wants to play fast and physical.
The Falcons are looking for pass rush players in the draft and free agency, but will try to upgrade the secondary in several spots.
Arenas, a former second round pick, has played with three teams already. He was selected by Kansas City when Falcons assistant general manager Scott Pioli was the general manager. He played 2013 with Arizona before joining the Falcons last season.
Arenas was signed to compete with veteran Josh Wilson and incumbent nickel back Robert McClain. Wilson started out as the top nickel back before McClain ended up claiming the position.
Arenas’ agent, Hadley Engelhard, a long-time Atlanta-based player representative, is not sure yet if the Falcons want to retain his client.
The fact that Quinn has already looked at safety Dezmen Southward’s nickel back from his college days at Wisconsin is not a good signal for Arenas, Wilson or McClain. All three players are set to become unrestricted free agents.
Javier Arenas, fifth-year cornerback
The skinny: Unrestricted free agent.
The snaps: Played 54 snaps in six games. Couldn’t win the nickel back job on the worst defense in the league.
The stats: 4 tackles, no interceptions.
2014 salary: $730,000 plus a $65,000 signing bonus
FALCONS POTENTIAL UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
DB Javier Arenas
LB Kroy Biermann
K Matt Bryant
G-T Gabe Carimi
S Charles Godfrey
G Mike Johnson
S Dwight Lowery
DE Cliff Matthews
CB Robert McClain
TE Bear Pascoe
DT Corey Peters
RB Jacquizz Rodgers
OT Jonathan Scott
RB Antone Smith
DE Osi Umenyiora
LB Sean Weatherspoon
WR Eric Weems
CB Josh Wilson
QB T.J. Yates
FALCONS COMBINE MEETINGS