Last off-season the Atlanta Falcons were bumping their heads against the salary cap ceiling, looking at a depleted stock of draft picks because of the Julio Jones trade the prior year, and had their minds set on putting the franchise tag on defensive back Brent Grimes. This year all of that has changed, but the franchise tag will probably still be used in the defensive secondary, just not on Grimes.
While Grimes is certainly an important part of Atlanta’s defense, the Falcons may not see the value in using the tag for a second straight year on a player who basically lost an entire season to a knee injury in 2012. A more important piece of the Falcons pass defense is Pro Bowl safety William Moore.
Moore is an unrestricted free agent, and will certainly bring a large price tag with his big time skills. The Falcons need Moore’s presence in the secondary, both for his ability to wallop receivers when they do get their hands on a ball, and for his steadily improving ball hawk skills – Moore had four interceptions and two forced fumbles in just 12 games in 2012.
Another UFA who could possibly end up being tagged by Atlanta is left tackle Sam Baker, but the chances are that negotiating an acceptable and affordable deal with Baker will be a much easier task than with Moore. The franchise tag cost for a safety is projected to be a little under $7 million (3rd cheapest behind punters and kickers), while an offensive tackle’s tag is expected to be close to $10 million. Negotiating with Baker and using the cheaper tag to retain Moore would seem to make the most sense.
As for Grimes, it’s probably a sure bet that he will test the free agent market and sign with another team.