Remaining big-name free agent fits for the Falcons

Posted on Mar 14 2017 - 3:27pm by Chase Irle

The Falcons have been quiet as expected over the first few days of free agency. Jack Crawford has been the only addition of the 2017 free agent class, but he seems poised to be no more than a rotational defensive lineman. The biggest success thus far might just be the restructuring of Ryan Schaeder’s contract which has give the Falcons an extra $4.8 dollars in cap space this offseason. This means the best of Atlanta’s free agent moves have yet to come. The Falcons have become so successful in large part due to their success at finding undervalued players on the free agent market. Here are some names to keep an eye moving forward.

Dontari Poe

October 16, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs nose tackle Dontari Poe (92) during the third quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland Coliseum. The Chiefs defeated the Raiders 26-10. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Poe is far from an under the radar free agent, but the defensive tackle position has been undervalued this free agency. Usually a hot market for huge contracts, the best defensive tackles are still waiting to get paid, prompting many to consider a one-year option in hopes the market will be better next free agency. Poe is one of those candidates looking for a huge contract, but will probably fail to get one that meets his expectations.

With that in mind, Poe to the Falcons on a one-year deal makes a lot of sense for both sides. Atlanta does not have to make a huge investment that could jeopardize key extensions to their young core, and Poe has a chance to make a healthy salary this season while playing for a legit Super Bowl contender. A great season from Poe would not only put him in line for a huge payday next offseason, but also would help the Atlanta defense take the next step, making the Falcons the scariest team in the NFL.

Likelihood of signing (1-10): 6

Jared Cook

GREEN BAY, WI – AUGUST 12: Jared Cook #89 of the Green Bay Packers warms up before the game against the Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field on August 12, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Cook is headed elsewhere with the Packers signing Martellus Bennett. Cook was much more effective with Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball to him and could be a huge help to the Falcons offense. Atlanta has not had a big tight-end threat like Cook since Tony Gonzalez, and Matt Ryan loves to utilize tight-ends as his safety blanket and in the red-zone.

Cook might be able to add whole different element to this already terrific offense, but the price may be too steep. The tight-end market has been down so far, however, Cook is still looking to cash in on a long-term deal after his 2016 campaign. With Austin Hooper showing promise in his first season and the re-signing of Levine Toilolo earlier this offseason, this move seems highly unlikely

Likelihood of signing: 2

Connor Barwin

After subpar years in 2015 and 2016 compared to his stellar 2014 campaign, Barwin was cut by the Eagles. Barwin might be the type of veteran edge rusher the Falcons could get on a bargain this offseason. He has the speed and physicality that Dan Quinn loves in his defenders, but the Falcons are not going to be willing to spend big money on an edge rusher with so many solid options in the upcoming draft. Once again the price is going to have to be right for the Falcons to land Barwin, but at thirty years old, he could be looking to compete for Super Bowls as his career winds down.

Barwin was also caught wearing a Falcons shirt at the Super Bowl. That may not mean much, or may mean his dream is to play under Quinn and ultimately deliver Atlanta their first Super Bowl. Barwin would be an awesome signing, but the Falcons might be better off drafting one of the many stellar pass-rushing prospects in this year’s draft.

Likelihood of signing: 4

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