Beyond the offensive lineman, the Falcons also have a few complementary pieces on the offensive due to become free agents. Running backs Snelling and Norwood along with kick return specialist Eric Weems could all have new homes in 2011. Let's check out their chances of staying, and if the Falcons should keep them.
Jason Snelling: Earlier this week, I mused whether Snelling could stay in Atlanta as the starting fullback (which obviously would involve cutting Pro-Bowl incumbent Ovie Mughelli), coming to a conclusive "no" as the answer. Snelling is a great backup that definitely has the talent to start on another team, and he will certainly receive his share of interest from RB-needy teams around the league.
Though I'm sure the Falcons would love to keep J-Snell around (they slapped a second-round tender on him back before the lockout), it's doubtful he wants to stay in Atlanta if he stands to lose most of his carries to newby Jacquizz Rodgers. In fact, Snelling himself said he wants "more influence in the offense" next year, which is unlikely to happen. When all is said and done, I fully expect Snelling to get a better deal from another team and end up somewhere else.
Jerious Norwood: If Snelling has a slim chance of staying a Falcon, then Norwood has a paper-thin chance. While Norwood has certainly shown flashes of his talent a few times, he hasn't been on the field enough to make an impact on the offense.
For a guy who has never had more than 103 carries in a season, and with the drafting of a speedy, pass-catching back (his forte), you can't imagine the front office has Norwood in their future plans. His season-ending injury last year only adds to the case against re-signing him. The good folks over at The Falcoholic seem to think he's done, and I can't help but agree with them.
Eric Weems: At first I thought this would be an interesting case. Considering the new kickoff rules and how they will affect the return game, I though maybe the team wouldn't keep Weems around. With kickoff returns less likely to occur in 2011, I questioned whether the team wanted to dedicate a roster spot for a return man with sub-par receiving skills.
However, Weems' agent certainly thinks he will be back with the team in 2011, and really it should be a no-brainer. He offers big-play ability in the return game, great kickoff coverage ability, and most likely he'll be very cheap. It's always nice to keep a Pro Bowl player around for a not alot of money, is it not?
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