Falcons Free Agency 2012: Can Atlanta Afford To Keep Curtis Lofton?

Curtis Lofton is scheduled to be a free agent in a few weeks, and while the Atlanta Falcons have held talks with Lofton's representatives here over the weekend, the question must be asked whether Atlanta can afford to sign their marquee linebacker at all?

The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mark Kay Cabot reported on Monday that the Browns have signed linebacker D'Qwell Jackson to a five-year deal worth $42.5 million, $19 million guaranteed. Lofton is considered by many as an equal if not better middle linebacker than Jackson, and will command that type of money in free agency.

Here are the top 5 middle linebackers by compensation in the NFL as of today.

1. Patrick Willis, San Francisco: seven years, $53.51 million, $29 million guaranteed.

2. Jon Beason, Carolina: six years, $51.3 million, $25 million guaranteed.

3. Jerod Mayo, New England: seven years,$49.85 million, $25 million guaranteed.

4. D'Qwell Jackson, Cleveland: five years, $ 42.5 million, $19.5 million guaranteed.

5. David Harris, New York Jets: four years, $36 million, $29.5 million guaranteed.

The Falcons will have to make a decision soon, or ponder the possibility of being without their quarterback of the defense. Stay tuned.

For more on the Atlanta Falcons, visit The Falcoholic. For more news and notes on NFL free agency, check out SB Nation's NFL page.

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