As free agency draws even closer, another player on the laundry list of potential re-signings the Falcons must consider is journeyman wide receiver Harry Douglas
A fifth-year product out of Louisville, he was taken in the third round as a member of Thomas Dimitroff's first Atlanta draft class. After a rookie season in which Douglas displayed a lot of promise and exploiveness, an ACL tear threw a wrench in that upward trend and caused him to miss the entire 2009 season.
While 2010 was essentially a step back for the still-recovering Douglas, last season was perhaps his best as a Falcons. He set career highs in both receptions (39) and receiving yards (498), and was generally considered an important contributor on offense.
But is that enough to justify re-signing "HD" to a long-term deal?
First, let's be fair: week in and week out it seemed as though Douglas wasn't being consistently involved in the offense under Mike Mularkey. Ryan and the rather archaic offensive scheme seemed to rely only on three receiving options: Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, and (when healthy) Julio Jones.
But the weeks where Douglas did get an opportunity to shine, he did. Against New Orleans, he managed to rack up 133 yards receiving on eight catches (16.6 yards/catch), by far his best game as a Falcon. Against Detroit, Douglas again showed his big play ability by catching four passes for 62 yards, including a nice 49-yard reception where he picked up big yards after the catch.
Really, it all comes down to whether new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter thinks he can use Douglas more effectively than Mularkey did (wouldn't be hard). As far as No. 3 receivers go, he's far from the worst.
At the same time, there are plenty of enticing receivers that should be available on the free agent market. Pierre Garcon, Mario Manningham, and Robert Meachem are just some of the big names that could wind up on a different team this offseason.
If Koetter wanted to bring in an ultra-explosive guy like Meachem, it could have the potential to make the offense ridiculous With so many top-end receivers available, the demand (and thus the price) would drop noticeably. Or something like that. I never really had a fondness for economics.
But with so many other important needs this offseason (offensive line, defensive end, cornerback), I'd have to cast my vote in Douglas' favor. He should be brought back on a one-year deal, and we can see if Koetter can perhaps do what Mularkey never could.
**Oh, and don't think I forgot about Eric Weems. Given that Mike Smith named him one of his personal MVPs at the season-end press conference, don't be surprised if the Falcons do what's necessary to bring our kick return specialist back to Atlanta for one more year.