With everything is in a standstill until the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is signed, it makes it difficult to determine which free agents will likely be in the open market. Adding to that uncertainty is the fact that the definition of a free agent may actually change depending on the details of the new deal. But that's not going to stop me.
The Atlanta Falcons are coming off a tremendous regular season and disappointing postseason which means it's time to try and decide which free agents they should go after this offseason. As I play fantasy GM, here's a few players that I think the Falcons should pursue based on their needs and the likelihood they'd get them. (Sorry, Nnamdi Asomugha fans).
WR James Jones, Packers (age in 2011: 27)
There's probably no chance the Packers let this kid get away but he's at the top of my wish list. He caught 50 passes despite being the third option in Green Bay and his upside is off the charts. He's struggled with the dropsies some but the positives far outweigh the negatives.
WR Steve Smith, Giants (26)
With the emergence of Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham, Smith became expendable. There's some injury concerns - he missed seven games in 2010 - but he's averaged more than five receptions a game and caught 107 passes just a year earlier. In tough third-down situations, he'd be Matt Ryan's best friend when Roddy White gets doubled. He'd be the No. 2 receiver in Atlanta right away.
DE Ray Edwards, Vikings (26)
Edwards has posted back-to-back seasons with eight sacks and would help a Falcons pass rush that was one-dimensional. John Abraham accounted for 13 of the team's 31 sacks and he turns 33 this season. An upgrade is needed.
DL Haloti Ngata, Ravens (27)
This is another one I don't think the Falcons will get but what a tremendous signing if they could. Ngata is a huge force inside and - teamed with Jonathan Babineaux - would provide a run-stopping, pass-rushing wall that would rival the best in the league.
CB William Gay, Steelers (26)
The Falcons have solid corners but they need help at nickel back. With Brian Williams a free agent and Christopher Owens showing he's not quite ready for primetime, Gay would help establish a rapidly improving secondary.
CB Fabian Washington, Ravens (28)
If the Steelers hang on to Gay, Washington makes since. He comes from the defensive-minded Ravens and he's similar to Brent Grimes in the way he can leap for interceptions.