There is a saying in life…the bigger, the better. This is an attitude commonly displayed by fans when the free agency period begins. Speculation runs wild within fan bases regarding if their team will be able to win a bidding war for the best player on the market. Naturally not everyone can grab a big name out of free agency, but what about lesser known names? You can get great value out of free agency without bringing in a big name.
This free agency class in particular has several good value players, and with the Falcons cutting Dunta Robinson and John Abraham it’s only logical to believe they’ll look for help for the defense in free agency. Even with these cuts the Falcons are still tight on cap space as they have to resign several of their own key free agents. As such they will likely look for several of these value players in free agency.
The first player to look at is Wallace Gilberry. Gilberry played in a rotational role for the Cincinnati Bengals last year where he amassed 6.5 sacks and 13 stops. Gilberry, who turns 29 in December, could be a starter but he is best suited in a role where he can focus on rushing the passer. While he would not be the solution to the Falcons pass rush problems he would provide a Vance Walker like impact off the bench. Pro Football Focus did not have Gilberry graded in the red at all during the 2012 season. In fact, Gilberry earned four grades in the green for Pro Football Focus.
Another player to look at on the defensive line is William Hayes. Like Gilberry, Hayes was a rotational rusher last year for the Rams. Even though he was stuck behind Chris Long and Robert Quinn, Hayes still managed 7 sacks and 26 stops. Hayes, who turns 28 in November, is well rounded enough to start for Atlanta. According to Pro Football Focus, Hayes is particularly strong against the run where he recorded 6 grades in the green against 2 in the red. Hayes could be a very good signing for Atlanta since he’ll likely come for cheap and be able to start. If nothing else, Hayes should be able to be a very good rotational pass rusher.
The third player to look at is CB Derek Cox. Derek Cox is a very talented player, but has had trouble staying on the field as he has missed 14 total games over the past two seasons. The bright side for Cox is that he is talented and young. Cox will turn 27 in late September and has shown the ability to play at a high level. Despite playing injured and missing games, Cox was able to record 4 INTs and 11 PDs in 2012. Cox also intercepted four balls in 2009 and 2010 as well. According to Pro Football Focus, Cox had 4 green grades in 2012 with 3 red grades. His worst game was against the Lions and Calvin Johnson, but he also did a very good job against A.J. Green and the Bengals. If Cox can stay healthy he could be a very good #2 corner.
The Final player to look at in terms of value is DT Jason Jones. Jones, who played with the Seahawks last year, is one of the better pass rushing DTs in the league. Despite battling injuries last season he managed to sack the QB four times according to Pro Football Focus. Jones is still young as he’ll be turning 27 in May and could be a very valuable rotational pass rusher on the inside. The biggest problem for Jones will be his ability to stay healthy. If he is able to stay healthy he would be able to form one of the best DT rotations with Vance Walker and Travian Robertson. Looking at his Pro Football Focus stats, he graded in the green 3 times and in the red 3 times. The major cause for his red grades was his run defense, which is why he would be a rotational player if he were to sign with Atlanta.