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Falcons could have tough tag decision between Grimes and Lofton

Wild Card Playoffs - Atlanta Falcons v New York Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 08: Travis Beckum #47 of the New York Giants makes a catch against Curtis Lofton #50 of the Atlanta Falcons during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at MetLife Stadium on January 8, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

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Brent Grimes is one of the most underrated cornerbacks in football. He’s easily the best player in Atlanta’s secondary. Middle linebacker Curtis Lofton has been a defensive cornerstone since he joined the Falcons four years ago.

Surely, the Falcons would like to keep both impending free agents. Perhaps they will, but they can only use one franchise tag.

This creates a situation that is somewhat similar to what’s happening in New Orleans. There is more pressure on the Saints to sign Drew Brees quickly so they can use their tag on either Marques Colston or Carl Nicks. (Although Brees’ contract talks are not moving fast.)

We’d argue that Grimes and Lofton are both worthy of the franchise tag, but Grimes is the more important player to keep. Grimes also figures to be tougher to re-sign because cornerbacks are a lot more attractive on the open market compared to inside linebackers.

The Falcons should decide which player is more palatable to sign quickly, make a deal, and franchise the other defender. If they have to choose, go with Grimes.

The Atlanta Journal-Consistution broke down all of Atlanta’s free agents, with Grimes and Lofton leading the way. Other interesting names: pass rusher John Abraham, center Todd McClure, wideout Harry Douglas, and defensive end Kroy Biermann.

This looks like a transitional year for the Dimitroff/Smith era with new coordinators on both sides of the ball.

The Falcons have enjoyed great stability the last few seasons, but they sound ready to make some significant changes after another early playoff exit.