On March 16 at 4 pm ET, teams can officially begin signing free agents, but they can start negotiating with unrestricted free agents two days prior during the legal tampering period that starts March 14 at noon ET.
Steve Wyche of NFL Network reported that Atlanta would make cap-saving moves to become “mid-market” shoppers in free agency. Those moves included potentially extending Grady Jarrett, Jake Matthews, and Matt Ryan. Terry Fontenot will be bargain shopping once again. Another interesting piece of the report from Wyche surrounds impending free agent Cordarrelle Patterson. The Falcons want to re-sign the 30-year-old former All-Pro, and they plan to use him as the model for free agents going forward.
After signing a one-year, $3 million deal, Patterson broke out in his ninth season. In an ideal world, Fontenot would find a dozen free agents like Patterson who outperform their contract, but that’s unrealistic to expect.
There are some impending free agents who could be in line for a one-year, prove-it deal where Fontenot could find value — Jadaveon Clowney, Jarvis Landry, and Will Dissly. However, if the Falcons were to shell out some cash for an impending free agent, the players that were franchise tag candidates that didn’t get tagged would be a great place to start. The deadline for teams to franchise tag players came and went Tuesday afternoon; now, these players will test the open market.
Some of the players that weren't tagged and will hit FA:#Chiefs Tyrann Mathieu#CardinalsChandler Jones#Patriots JC Jackson#Bucs Carlton Davis#Saints Terron Armstead#Rams Von Miller#Bears Allen Robinson#Bucs Ryan Jensen#Titans Harold Landry#Panthers Haason Reddick
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) March 8, 2022
Most, if not all, of these players are going to garner lucrative, multi-year deals on the open market, and the Falcons have expressed their desire to find value in free agency, so it’s hard to imagine them agreeing to a deal with any of these guys, but perhaps they surprise everyone and make a splash.
The Honey Badger would be a menace in Dean Pees’ defense, which would allow him to do what he does best — terrorize offenses from all over the field. Chandler Jones is one of the league’s best EDGE rushers, and the Falcons would take a significant step toward a productive pass rush by signing him, Haason Reddick, or Von Miller. The Falcons don’t really have a spot for Terron Armstead, but JC Jackson and Carlton Davis would fill massive holes opposite AJ Terrell.
Allen Robinson seems like the most realistic option on this list. He has connections from Chicago to Atlanta’s current staff, and Matt Ryan would easily be the best quarterback he’s ever caught passes from. Instead of spending cap dollars on Russell Gage and another lowly free agent, allocating funds towards a deal for Robinson would be an interesting scenario.
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