Atlanta Falcons free agency 2018: Top 5 targets

The Atlanta Falcons don’t have a lot of space to work with this offseason. Here are the five players they should target in 2018 NFL free agency.

The Atlanta Falcons should have one of the better rosters in the NFC in 2018. Atlanta was the only team in the NFC to reach the playoffs the last two seasons. While they came up a quarter and change short of winning Super Bowl LI, the Falcons did make it in as a No. 6 seed last year. Though Atlanta has won three playoff games the last two years combined, the Falcons are one of only a handful of teams without a Super Bowl championship to date.

Could that all change in 2018? Potentially, as Atlanta has a third-place schedule, a deep roster and maybe most importantly, the Super Bowl behind played in its own backyard. Atlanta is a way away from getting to Super Bowl LIII, but has to be in the mix as one of the few teams that could get there in 2018 out of the NFC.

That being said, Atlanta does enter a difficult spot in the 2018 NFL offseason. Atlanta would love to keep its core intact, but will be seeing several important players hitting unrestricted free agency this spring. To make matter worse, the Falcons only have $12,792,712 in available cap space. That’s good enough for 28th in the league.

So don’t expect Atlanta to be a big spender in free agency this spring. However, the Falcons would be wise to bring back a handful of important pieces hitting the open market. Who knows? Maybe the Dirty Birds make a splash or two as well this spring? Here are their five biggest targets heading into free agency.

Dontari Poe

DT, Atlanta Falcons

This felt like a one-year rental all along. That might prove to be the case with Falcons defensive tackle Dontari Poe. Poe was a former first-round pick out of Memphis by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2012 NFL Draft. He spent his first five years in the league with the Chiefs before leaving Kansas City in free agency for Atlanta on a one-year deal in 2017.

Poe took a discount to make $8 million in his first year with the Falcons. He was probably worth more on the open market, but Kansas City opting to go with a younger version of him in the form of Chris Jones didn’t sit well with other NFL general managers. Why didn’t Kansas City want to pay its former No. 11 overall pick top dollar during his unrestricted free agency?

In his first year with Atlanta, Poe played in all 16 games, registering 23 tackles and 2.5 quarterback sacks at defensive tackle. He kept his weight down for head coach Dan Quinn, as Poe definitely acclimated himself to a solid role on the Atlanta defensive line. However, Atlanta may not be the team willing to pay Poe for a multi-year extension. That’s kind of the point for him heading into 2018 NFL free agency, right?

Filling Poe’s shoes may be difficult. However, Atlanta did find a strong defensive tackle in the fifth round recently in the form of Grady Jarrett. Atlanta would obviously like to have Poe back, but the two parties are probably on separate sides of the fence in this one. Odds are, Poe will be playing for his third NFL team in as many years in 2018.

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