The terminology "free-agent splash’’ doesn’t exist in Arthur Blank’s book. In fact, he hates such a description in relation to offseason moves.
Sure, the Atlanta Falcons owner has been a part of some major acquisitions in the past, including trading for future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez. Yet Blank sees no reason to go on a free-agent spending spree just to compensate for this past season’s 4-12 record.
Blank still firmly believesin building through the draft.
"I think the emphasis will be on the draft and college free agents,’’ Blank said. "There will be selective use of free agency. We’ll see who’s out there. We’ll see the price tags on them. We’ll spend right up to the max in terms of salary cap; make sure we’re making the investments with those players and those positions that will give us the best possible return.
"It won’t be about splash. It won’t be about who is the celebrity out there who will help sell tickets, because we don’t have to. Winning will sell tickets.’’
Blank expressed full confidence once again in general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith in terms of turning things around following a dismal campaign. Blank even believes his team will be back where it was after the 2012 season, just as long-time vice president of personnel for the Dallas Cowboys Gil Brandt predicted for the Falcons next season.
"It’s is one of the beauties of the NFL; is that in July and August, every fan in the America believes, and has a reason to believe, that their team can go from last to first or stay in first, whatever the case may be,’’ Blank said. "And I think our Atlanta fans here the prior five years, and our expectations and our commitment to excellence and our standards and our zeal -- an our passion, energy; every word that you can think of in that regard -- there is reason to believe that we will go from last to first in 2013.’’
Maybe the Falcons won’t need to make a "splash’’ in free agency, but it will be interesting to see what type of free-agent additions they make come March. Blank reiterated the need to bolster the offensive and defensive line, while tight end and linebackers are positions that need to be addressed as well.