Sports

2012 NFL Free Agency: Big Questions Facing the Atlanta Falcons

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Tuesday March 13, 2012 at 4:00 pm EST, the NFL free agent shopping sprees and bidding wars can officially begin. Of course, at the top of many teams wish list is a franchise quarterback, and there just happens to be a 36 year old Super Bowl winning, MVP quarterback looking for work. Imagine that.

The salary cap has been set at $120,600,000 and the Falcons are reported to be $5.7 million under the cap ($7.3 if we include the gift from the Cowboys and Redskins). That number includes Brent Grimes $10.6 million franchise tag but the Falcons can use that money until Grimes signs the tag or a contract with the Falcons (of course, then the Falcons would have to make some moves to get under the cap if they use that money).

Teams are going to be jockeying for cap room prior to the 4pm free agency kickoff. You will see guys possibly getting re-structured deals and some potentially big names getting released and unexpectedly being available. We've got some burning questions down below regarding our Falcons and the NFL and some links you might want to check out as we prepare for the blitz that will be Free Agency. Join us throughout the day to discuss those questions in the comment section below as well as anything regarding Free Agency, the Atlanta Falcons and the NFL as the 4 PM deadline approaches and once it hits. Let us know what you would like the Falcons to do and give us your take on the Falcons moves as well as any other key signings in the NFL once they are made.

The big questions that can begin to be answered for the Falcons are:

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 Do the Falcons have enough cap space to go after big names like Mario Williams, Carl Nicks or Ben Grubbs?

Will the portion of the money that Atlanta gets from Dallas and Washington's cap penalty put us back in the mix for those big names?

With the release of OT Eric Winston by the Texans, do the Falcons look to him for possible strengthening of the offensive line?

Does Atlanta re-sign veteran DE John Abraham? (as may be speculated from his unexpected visit to Flowery Branch on Monday)

What will become of James Sanders, Eric Weems, Todd McClure, Mike Peterson, Kelvin Hayden, and Joe Zelenka?

What possible contracts can be restructed to free up even more cap space for the Falcons?

Who will the Falcons look to release before training camp even begins, and what will those do to help clear cap space?

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Now in the big NFL picture, there are some stories that everyone is following:

Who wins the Peyton Manning sweepstakes?

How does the recent hit on the salary caps by the NFL affect Dallas and Washington and their ability to sign free agents and potential draft choices? (Washington has been penalized $31 million in cap space this year)

If Denver doesn't land Manning, is a possible trade of Tim Tebow still on the table?

Does Randy Moss get signed by the Saints or the 49ers?

UPDATE: The 49ers have signed Randy Moss

With commissioner Roger Goodell meeting with Saints' owner Tom Benson and coach Sean Payton this week, will part of the penalties handed down affect the Saints cap?

What big free agent blunder will the Oakland Raiders make this year?

All these questions, and many more, are sure to remain in some sort of clouded mess after 4pm on Tuesday...but it's fun to speculate anyway.

Free Agent Links of Note:

Pat Kirwin's Top 30 Free Agents

NFL.com's All-Free Agency Team

Walter Football's Free Agency Grades

This Given Sunday warns us that Free Agency is a Gambler's Game

Get more great Atlanta Falcons news and analysis over at The Grits Blitz.