Early Bird Report: NFL free agency to begin as planned

Despite concerns about the coronavirus, the NFL's new league year will begin as planned on Wednesday. According to The MMQB's Albert Breer, the league sent a memo to teams informing them of the decision to start the league year and free agency at the scheduled time.

NFL players narrowly voted to approve a new collective bargaining agreement on Sunday, which will come into effect for the 2020 season. The league's legal tampering period begins Monday at noon, with free agency officially opening at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

Here are some other articles for Falcons fans to check out today:

ESPN: Davison beefs up Falcons' run defense

Atlanta agreed to terms with defensive tackle Tyeler Davison on a three-year extension Sunday, bringing back one of the inspiring players from the 2019 season. Davison was an anchor for the Falcons' run defense on the interior of the line, finishing the year with 55 tackles and four tackles for a loss. ESPN's Vaughn McClure wrote about the move and what it means for the Falcons moving forward.

"The Falcons kept one of their own in place by reaching a contract extension with Davison, who proved himself to be a reliable run-stuffer last season," McClure writes. "Davison, who spent his first four years with the rival New Orleans Saints, started 12 of 16 games last season and finished with 55 tackles, a sack, four tackles for loss, and a fumble recovery. While Pro Bowler Grady Jarrett is the standout along the defensive line, Davison is a player capable of doing the dirty work on early downs. As new defensive coordinator Raheem Morris tries to put his stamp on the unit, he'll need a tough guy like Davison up front to help limit running backs of division opponents such as Carolina's Christian McCaffrey and New Orleans' Alvin Kamara when they try to run up the middle."

To read the rest of McClure's piece on Atlanta's recent signings, click here.

AJC: New labor deal gives Falcons more options with cap

The newly agreed upon collective bargaining agreement has implications for the Falcons as they prepare for the start of free agency. The CBA increases the total salary cap by $10 million, giving Atlanta a bit more of a cushion as it seeks to address some spots on the roster this offseason. The Falcons will still need to get creative to free up some more space financially, but there are other aspects of the CBA that could help in that regard, as Michael Cunningham details in a story for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"The cap increase for 2020 is modest: $10 million per team to $198.2 million," Cunningham writes. "That's roughly $2 million less than earlier estimates. It represents the smallest increase by percentage since the 2013 season.

"But two other provisions give Dimitroff the tools to create space going into free agency. Teams now can spread salary-cap hits for released players over two seasons. They also can raise or lower base salaries by more than 30%, making it easier to restructure contracts for cap relief. Those two tools would have been unavailable without a new labor agreement."

To read the rest of Cunningham's story, click here.

CBS Sports: Offseason moves each team should make

The Falcons are in the midst of an important offseason for the future of the franchise. With several talented players remaining on the roster but limited financial flexibility, each decision is being weighed carefully by the front office. CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora recently wrote a piece detailing the offseason move each NFL team should make, and he believes it's in the Falcons' best interest to begin freeing up some cap space by moving the veteran players on their roster.

"Move Desmond Trufant, Devante [sic] Freeman and Alex Mack for what you can get," La Canfora writes. "Need picks and need cap room, badly. Most of these deals are so bad the Falcons will be stuck with some players, or end up just cutting others. This franchise is stuck in no-man's land, to me, with enough talent not to be horrible but nowhere close to being an actual contender and too much money tied up into a handful of aging players."

To read the rest of La Canfora's piece, click here.

ESPN: Raheem Morris focused on now

After helping lead a dramatic defensive turnaround that played a key role in the Falcons finishing the 2019 season with six wins in their final eight games, Raheem Morris has earned the role of defensive coordinator moving forward. A former head coach in this league, Morris' ability to communicate with Falcons players was apparent.

Morris spoke with the Atlanta media recently and discussed the importance of finding a defensive identity. First and foremost, the Falcons know they need to find ways to generate more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

"To have a successful defense, you guys know, is affecting the quarterback, whatever that means," Morris said, according to ESPN's Vaughn McClure. "A lot of people, when you say affect the quarterback, they automatically go right to sacks. But you've got to get him off the spot. You've got to fool him with disguise. You've got to get those guys to think a little bit."

McClure wrote more about Morris's ascent within the Falcons' ranks and the possibility that sustained success could once again lead to the ultimate opportunity within the NFL. To read McClure's piece, click here.

AJC: Falcons receive no compensatory picks

According to D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Atlanta Falcons were not among the teams the NFL announced would receive compensatory picks in this year's NFL Draft. Compensatory picks are given to teams based on the quantity or quality of players it loses in free agency the previous year.

"With the Falcons set to lose tight end Austin Hooper, linebacker De'Vondre Campbell and backup guard Wes Schweitzer to free agency, they could be in line for compensatory picks in the 2021 draft," Ledbetter writes.

To read the rest of Ledbetter's report on compensatory picks, click here.

ESPN: Best and worst recent FA signings

While the draft is still the most cost-effective way to build a championship team in the NFL, free agency is undoubtedly important in helping accomplish that goal. Like any team, the Falcons have had their share of hits and misses in free agency over the years. ESPN took a look at the best and worst signings over recent seasons for each team, and the Falcons did hit the jackpot just a few years ago by signing center Alex Mack.

"The former Cleveland Brown brought immediate stability to the offensive line and played a big role in helping the Falcons to Super Bowl LI," ESPN's Vaughn McClure writes. "Mack's intelligence and ability to block into the second level helped establish him as the anchor of the line."

To see the Falcons' worst free agent signing, click here.

Tampa Bay Times: Bucs "all in" on Tom Brady

The G.O.A.T appears all set to hit free agency next week, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are intent on signing Tom Brady this offseason, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. Stroud reports that the Bucs still aren't sold on Winston, who is also set to become a free agent, as the franchise quarterback, and Brady could be the most accomplished quarterback to ever hit the open market.

"It's true," Stroud writes. "The franchise that has not reached the postseason in 12 years will do almost anything to land the quarterback who has been to the playoffs for 11 straight seasons and won six Super Bowls. … This is not hype. It's hope. This is fact, not fantasy. This is the plan. This is the Bucs' play."

To read the rest of Stroud's report on the Bucs' interest in Brady, click here.

Before heading into the 2020 NFL year, we are going to look back at the best images from players on the active roster. Take a look at the best of defensive tackle Tyeler Davison.

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