Falcons sure to monitor Orakpo's status

Surely the Atlanta Falcons will keep a close eye on the news out of both Washington and Buffalo on Monday as NFL teams face the deadline to place the franchise tag on players.

If the Redskins decide not to franchise Brian Orakpo at a cost of $11.455 million for 2014, expect the Falcons to at least check into the price of the talented pass-rusher with hopes of adding him when free agency starts on March 11. But the Falcons won't overspend with other needs to fill along the offensive and defensive lines as well as at safety, in terms of priorities.

Orakpo, who turns 28 in July, is a three-time Pro Bowler with 39.5 career sacks. Although an outside linebacker for the Redskins, he could fit in as a defensive end in the Falcons' scheme. The Falcons were tied for 29th in the league last season with just 32 sacks. League-leader Carolina had 60.

According to the Washington Post, the Redskins are torn over whether to keep Orakpo in the fold or let him hit the open market. The decision on the franchise tag has to be made by 4 p.m. ET on Monday.

Also in Buffalo, the Bills reportedly are willing to let standout safety Jairus Byrd hit free agency after contract talks stalled. The physical, playmaking Byrd would be an upgrade for a Falcons team set to part ways with veteran free safety Thomas DeCoud.

But again, the Falcons won't overspend for one player. They already have starting strong safety William Moore counting $5.15 million against the cap in 2014.

Right now, the Falcons are projected to be around $18 million under the cap, which was set at $133 million for this coming league year. That figure could be higher based on upcoming cuts. extensions, and Tony Gonzalez's salary coming off the books following his retirement.