Falcons playing it safe at safety

March, 1, 2014
Mar 1
8:00
AM ET
The Atlanta Falcons may well land a veteran safety. It’s just no telling which one it might be.

With the release of former Pro Bowl free safety Thomas DeCoud imminent, the Falcons have to proceed with a Plan B if Plan A doesn’t work out.

Of course the Falcons would be interested in landing Jairus Byrd from the Buffalo Bills, who is considered the top safety on the market. But the Falcons really can’t afford to pay two safeties top dollar, with starting strong safety William Moore already making almost $6 million per year. Moore will count $5.15 million against the salary cap in 2014 while DeCoud would count $4.8 million against cap.

There has been dialogue between the Falcons and free agent Louis Delmas, who was recently released by the Detroit Lions. However, Delmas has yet to take a visit to Atlanta after reportedly visiting both Pittsburgh and New Orleans. Knee concerns may have something to do with Delmas and the Falcons being unable to connect. But there’s no doubt that Delmas has the type of toughness and ball skills the Falcons are looking for opposite Moore.

Byrd could get slapped with the franchise tag in Buffalo, which would eliminate him as an option anyway. Plus, the Falcons aren’t going overspend at the position. They are unlikely to pursue a guy such as Malcolm Jenkins from New Orleans because of his price tag.

Antoine Bethea from the Indianapolis Colts could be a lower-cost option that fits what the Falcons are looking for in a safety. Bethea told ESPN.com’s Mike Wells that he’s "excited" to test the market after spending eight seasons with the Colts. The 5-foot-11, 206-pound Bethea, who turns 30 in July, has registered more than 100 tackles the past four seasons, which would add another physical presence to the secondary.

But again from the Falcons’ standpoint, it will all come down to getting a "tough" player at a reasonable price. Bethea made $4.75 million last season, so he still might be out of the Falcons’ price range.

They Falcons are sure to closely monitor which safeties get released over the next week before the official start to free agency on March 11.

Vaughn McClure

ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter

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