Throughout the offseason, I will be fielding your questions about all things Falcons and trying to give you the best answers I can. If you would like to submit a question to be included in the Friday Mailbag, check out my profile on Formspring.me. If you asked a question this week and don't see the answer below, fear not. They may appear in future mailbag posts.
Q: Do we need a new safety?
A: As of right now, no. Now, that could change depending on how things shake out in free agency. Thomas DeCoud's contract is up, and general manager Thomas Dimitroff said a few weeks ago that of the Falcons' 17 free agents, a realistic number to sign back would be around eight. There's no telling right now if those plans include DeCoud or not. William Moore is still under contract and he's performed very well at the position despite dealing with bumps and bruises the past two seasons. James Sanders, who was signed during the preseason last year, will also be a free agent as he was only signed to a one-year deal. Sanders filled in nicely when called upon to be a starter and provided excellent and experienced depth at the position. Shann Schillinger is still a young up-and-comer, but has been a crucial part of special teams since he was drafted.
Q: With Nike taking over the uniforms, will there be any change in the Falcons uniforms?
A: This is a story that will get bigger throughout the spring, and Nike has been very tight-lipped about the new partnership and how things will change. There will be more to come on this topic in the next few months.
Q: Do you see the Falcons going in big for any of the top free agents this summer?
A: This is a question on a lot of people's minds. The short answer is I don't know. We're still a good bit away from that process as the front office and coaching staff are currently focused on the weekend's Senior Bowl and the Scouting Combine soon after. Based on the Falcons not having a first-round pick in this year's draft and plenty of re-signings that could occur, however, I think it's safe to assume that there will be some Falcons-related activity during free agency. How big will only be answered when the free agency period starts.
Q: Will the Falcons try to trade a player to move up in the 2nd round?
A: Obviously, there's a desire to have this question answered because there's more than one question mark attached to it. I kid, I kid. The best thing to do when going into the draft with the Falcons front office is to not assume anything. First of all, you'll likely drive yourself crazy. Second of all, you'll likely be wrong. Last year was case-in-point. The Falcons held the No. 27 pick in the first round and the consensus was that they were going a couple of different routes: defensive end, best player available or trading down. Only late on the day of the first round did smoke begin to circulate that the Falcons may be looking to move up. That's what they ended up doing to snag Julio Jones at the No. 6 spot and it shocked everyone. This is a group of people that obsessively looks at every possible scenario when it comes to the draft. There's so much time and energy poured into every detail and any situation that could arise. Whatever happens, it'll be something they've prepared for.
Q: Is there any sort of clandestine push to get Tommy Nobis in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? It's amazing to me that his name doesn't even get mentioned!
A: If there's not, there should be. I know this is a subject many of you feel passionately about, and I do, too. To me, there's little excuse for why Nobis isn't wearing a yellow jacket these days. Personally, I think it's a combination of a couple of things. Let's start with stats. Back when Nobis was playing, stats were kept very differently than they are today, and even just a few years after he left the game. Do a Google search for "Tommy Nobis stats" and you'll see that any figures from his playing days are at a premium. That's because of how different the stat book was kept. While it's widely publicized that Nobis set a team record for tackles in a season with 294 during his rookie campaign, there are very few numbers available outside of that. Prior to 1994, tackles were recorded inconsistently and couldn't be relied upon. Also, some teams recorded assisted tackles while others didn't. Another factor is that sacks didn't become a recordable stat until 1982. Before then, tackling the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage was recorded as a tackle, so comparing him to linebackers already in the Hall of Fame from the more modern era is difficult. Lastly, while Nobis was certainly a hero in Atlanta, he didn't garner much of the attention that counterparts like Ray Nitschke or Dick Butkus received at the time. Nobis, despite all the amazing things he did in his career, was overshadowed a bit by those two. I wasn't around during Nobis' playing days, so I have to rely on my research and what I hear from people who did see him play, but it certainly is a crime to me that he's not immortalized in Canton yet.