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Rebuilding Falcons piece by piece


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FALCONS

Rebuilding Falcons piece by piece

QB tops list of needs

By STEVE WYCHE

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 12/31/07

Quarterback

This will be the most important forthcoming personnel decision, by far. Will Atlanta try and trade for Donovan McNabb or J.P. Losman? Will it draft and build around Brian Brohm or Matt Ryan? Veteran Chris Redman proved worthy of getting re-signed, at worst as a backup. Joey Harrington and Byron Leftwich are capable backups, although Leftwich could get a shot to start elsewhere.

Running back

Warrick Dunn wants to play again. Whether a new staff wants to go another round with him or build around a younger player could be determined if Atlanta gets the third pick in the draft and has a shot at Arkansas' Darren McFadden. Jerious Norwood is signed through 2009.

Receiver

If tight end Alge Crumpler's problematic knees can heal in the offseason, he is still one of the top players at his position in the NFC. If the problems are chronic, his future in Atlanta could become cloudy. Wide receiver Roddy White emerged as the team's No. 1. Rookie Laurent Robinson could blossom into another standout at wide receiver. Both players were coups for the embattled personnel department, led by McKay and Billy Devaney. More help is needed, though, but it is not the highest priority.

Offensive line

Center Todd McClure just finished his 10th season but he's solid. Right tackle Tyson Clabo, at worst, is a vital backup. Left tackle Wayne Gandy, 34, had a season-ending knee injury and he could be done. Right tackle Todd Weiner also had season-ending knee surgery. His recovery could help the Falcons address other needs along the line. If his knee is problematic, building the offensive line could be a major project. Right guard Kynan Forney had a sub-par year and is entering the final year of his contract. Rookie left guard Justin Blalock struggled but he should be better for it.

Kicker

Michael Koenen was solid as the punter and kickoff specialist. The Falcons need to get their placekicking situation right after two years of blowing it early in the season and calling on Morten Andersen to salvage mistakes. Andersen has shown he's still accurate and reliable. He wants to play until he's 50. Unless he shows otherwise, why not bring him back?

Defensive line

Right end John Abraham showed how good he could be when healthy. Rookie left end Jamaal Anderson needs work this offseason. Anderson went 16 games without a sack, even when Abraham repeatedly chased quarterbacks in his direction. Tackles Rod Coleman and Trey Lewis are coming off major injuries. Lewis has tremendous potential and Coleman is a stud when and that's a big when he's healthy.

Linebackers

Strongside linebacker Michael Boley should be signed to a contract extension soon after blossoming into the most versatile player on the team. Weaksider Demorrio Williams could be allowed to walk via free agency. If the Falcons can find a solid middle linebacker, Keith Brooking could be moved to his natural spot on the weakside. Rookie Stephen Nicholas also is a promising weaksider. Brooking's situation could be interesting. He's owed nearly $5 million next season and could be asked to take a pay cut.

Secondary

Cornerback DeAngelo Hall is entering a contract year and he has already said he wants to sign an extension before next season. Atlanta could survey trade options for Hall. Though Hall has alienated a lot of fans, he's still a young, high caliber corner, which is hard to come by. Strong safety Lawyer Milloy has a year left on his contract and is still effective on the field and in the locker room. Free safety Chris Crocker is a free agent. The Falcons could let him walk and address the position in free agency or the draft. Maybe Jimmy Williams could finally prove that he's an NFL player and take over the vacant free safety spot.

;)

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I admit I'd be interested in seeing what the Bills want for Losman...

Get rid of Dunn and bring in Norwood's RB tag-team partner...

Offensive line? Where to start? Retain Weiner, Clabo, Forney, Blalock, and McClure since they are either under contract or re-signed last year. Bring in some fresh new talent and may the best man win his spot. I'm not too fond on taking J. Long, but honestly the Falcons can use help at any of the top 3 pro prospects' positions...

Keep Koenen, bring back Anderson and coach up Prater...

Retain Abraham, Anderson, Stanley, Lewis, and Babs. Put Coleman on notice since he can't seem to stay healthy. Need to start infusing more new talent here, too...

Boley and Nichols are keepers. Might want see what will keep Williams around. If its too much, let him walk. Brooking needs to be removed from MLB. Although he should be a better player at WLB I still think he's suspect. I hope he's willing to take a paycut. Draft a MLB.

Keep Hall, Houston, Grimes, Stone, and Irons. Give J. Williams one more season to make something of himself. Let Milloy play out his contract. Let Crocker walk.

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