Atlanta's passing offense could lose some key members in the 2012 season due to free agency. A pass attack that jumped from a 15th ranking with 222.9 yards per game in 2010 to the eighth-best yards per game producers with 262 this season will still have important pieces returning. The Falcons' 29 touchdowns through the air in 2011 was tied for sixth-best in the league.
Tony Gonzalez is the only tight end from Atlanta's 2011 active roster that is guaranteed to return to the Falcons in 2012. On January 1 he signed a one-year extension that will help him avoid free agency until 2013.
Gonzalez' backup, Michael Palmer, will be an exclusive rights free agent. The exclusive rights tag is applied to a player who is not under contract, but has only two years of NFL experience. The Falcons are allowed to offer Palmer a deal at the three-year veteran minimum and he will be required to accept it.
Thirty-four-year-old veteran Reggie Kelly will be a free agent in 2012.
Marquez Branson spent most of the season on injured reserve after joining the Falcons' practice squad for entire 2010 season. He signed a reserve/future free agent contract on January 18. The reserve contract does not begin until the league year begins in March. Only players not on an active roster when the season ends are elgible to sign a reserve/future free agent deal. Tommy Gallarda, who took Branson's place on the practice squad this season, signed the same type of deal with the Falcons.
Ryan Winterswyk reached an injury settlement with the Falcons following the close of the 2011 training camp and rejoined the practice squad near the end of the season. He joins Branson and Gallarda as three tight ends with reserve/future free agent deals for Atlanta.
Atlanta's top two options at wide receiver, Roddy White and Julio Jones, are locked up long term. White's contract runs through 2014 and Jones' rookie deal runs through the same season.
Eric Weems and Harry Douglas will both be free agents in 2012. Douglas was the team's No. 3 receiver since being drafted in 2008, working primarily out of the slot. Most of Weems' contributions came on special teams as the team's returner and key member of the coverage teams.
Wide receiver Kevin Cone's contract is undisclosed. He spent his rookie season on the practice squad and was promoted to the active roster before the final game of the season.
Kerry Meier, a fifth-round pick in 2010, is signed through 2013.
Drew Davis spent his rookie season as a wide receiver on the Falcons' practice squad. He also signed a reserve/future contract to return to the Falcons in March.