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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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Man I thought Dunn was stealing from the Falcons but Brooking most definitely is robbing the team. People want to talk about bad contracts the Falcons have given out but Brooking hitting the team for 5 mil? Good grief.

I wonder if he wears a ski mask when he goes to collect his check.

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I'd really rather not bring McNabb in to the team. He's going to get a fairly long term contract and I don't think that it's a good idea to give that kind of deal to a player who's starting to get older and who has an injury history when we've got the kind of issues we have on our offensive line.

I'd rather re-sign Redman for a year or two and draft a player in the second or third round to groom for the job. This team isn't just one player away, so bringing in someone like McNabb doesn't make a lot of sense. I don't see us winning much next year and we might as well use that downtime to train up a young player to step in and take charge when there's a chance that we COULD be something.

Besides, I doubt that he'd want to come to a rebuilding project anyways. He could go somewhere like Chicago where they're not far away from being elite at all (offensive issues and injuries got them this year) and he could make a legitimate contribution towards a championship there.

Direwolf

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I don't we could pull it off but, I would jump at the chance to have Mcnabb. Let's forget this losing way of thinking. we have already miss out on a lot of good players with our way of thinking around here. (look at the player the patriots were not afraid to pick up; Moss, Seau, Stallworth, C. Dillon, A. thomas and welker.

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