Falcons coach Dan Quinn has outlined his “100-day plan” with his coaching staff.
“Here’s what’s up over the next 100 days,” Quinn said. “By the way, that includes the draft, the players reporting, free agency, and the combine. There’s a lot to get done.”
Some of the roster evaluations have been made, as general manager Thomas Dimitroff and Quinn have started to retool the roster.
In a surprise and early offseason move, the Falcons released safety William Moore and linebacker Justin Durant on Monday. Both were opening-game starters in 2015, but no longer figured in the team’s plans.
The looming major decision concerns the future of wide receiver Roddy White. The Falcons appear to be leaning toward retaining White, the franchise’s all-time leading receiver, who’s production dipped to 43 receptions last season.
White’s salary is not prohibitive. as he’s set to make just $2.75 million in base salary for 2016. His base salary is $3 million for 2017. However, his salary-cap number is $6.137 million.
The Falcons know that asking a veteran to accept a pay cut could have a damaging affect on locker-room morale.
The main question is can White help the offense more than he did last season, when it took him awhile to master the new offense. The Falcons have looked to how the Arizona Cardinals used veteran receiver Larry Fitzgerald in the slot last season.
“I thought Larry had an unbelievable year,” Quinn said. “The plays that he made, it was like a couple of years ago. He’s always been like this terrific competitor. But you root for players like him. You root for players like Rod, who have that warrior mindset to them.”
The slot could be White’s new home.
“Where Rod is at his best is on the in-breaking stuff,” Quinn said.
Playing in the slot is not unfamiliar to White.
“He played some inside, and sometimes it depends on the concept playing in the slot,” Quinn said.
While the slot could be White’s new home, the Falcons don’t want to stunt the development of Justin Hardy, who showed promise last season as a rookie.
“It’s a combination of can we feature (White) in the best way for him and allow other players to come up through the system as well,” Quinn said.
Dimitroff has been down this road before with a key veteran. In retrospect, he wished that he kept center Todd McClure after the 2012 season. McClure wanted to keep playing, but the team decided to hand his job over to Peter Konz.
“We all learn as we are moving through our careers,” Dimitroff said. “We look back on situations when you are dealing with veterans who are at the tail end of their careers and how they can be important. Other times, you have to make difficult decisions.
“It’s not always just about talent that may be wavering a little bit at the tail end of a career. It’s about other things as well. It’s about the leadership and the culture aspects as well. A lot goes into the decision.”
The Falcons also have revamped their scouting department this offseason by restructuring the entire pro-personnel department and making several changes in the college-scouting department.
Joel Collier was named as the new director of pro personnel Monday. The former Kansas City executive replaced Lionel Vital.
Also, the Falcons added former general managers Ruston Webster and Phil Emery as national scouts. Quinn has started to work with Webster and Emery.
“I put the tape on with those two guys,” Quinn said. “How, do we on-board them so that they clearly understand what we are looking for offensively, defensively and on (special) teams. The traits for the players.”
It was a similar process that Quinn and his coaching staff went through with Dimitroff last season.
“Having to go through that process again and really articulate it has been good for me, and that process is already underway,” Quinn said.
Dimitroff doesn’t feel that the scouting moves were designed to fill a real or perceived void. The perception is that the Falcons need help drafting offensive and defensive linemen.
But these moves, Dimitroff insists, were not made to directly address that issue.
“We are interested in not necessarily bringing someone in here because we’re void of an aspect of it,” Dimitroff said. “We are bringing people in here with more experience and more of a pool of players to compare to. That’s really important for us. For the evolution of this team, it’s going to be really important to get some perspective from a high level of experience.”
As the team is set to attend the scouting combine, which starts Feb. 23, the decision on White may be forthcoming.
“We are not delaying this because we think we have all kinds of time,” Dimitroff said. “We want to make sure that we are looking at this from all angles and make sure that we are making the right decisions.
“In the end, Dan and I are going to make the decisions. We are going to make sure that we take into consideration our entire staff. We are a collaborative staff.”