It’s hard to say that a team that had such a free fall like the Atlanta Falcons should have free agent players that are a “must” to keep so there is progression with the franchise.

But there is.

Just like team owner Arthur Blank signing off on contract extensions for both head coach Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff, the Falcons will forge into the 2014 season reclaiming players who could be on the open market and demanding attention from other teams.

The Falcons could be a team that gets right back on the horse and challenges for a playoff spot next season, but in reality, it will be harder for them to contend now that Carolina has joined New Orleans as the cream of the NFC South. Even a team like Tampa Bay expects to be better this coming season, just because of change in management.

While the team must work on finding the right mix of teammates to make a push. Injuries and continuity hurt this franchise last season, so the hope for Atlanta is to be better mentally and physically this season.

These players are the six players this franchise must focus on to make it happen in the coming months.

Corey Peters

Of all the players who are free agents, this defensive tackle is the key to the defense staying effective, He is the best run stopper on the roster and his loss would huge for Smith’s defense. He should be the top priority of who stays form within.

Joe Hawley

The center has proven to be a nice commodity to have. He provides good depth and has the ability to step in and start if needed. The offensive line lost plenty of starters this past season. Knowing there is a player who can step in and provide help when needed is something good to have.

Chase Coffman

With the retirement of Tony Gonzalez, finding a starter to replace him and having depth behind the starter is paramount. Coffman is not going to start, but he is a decent blocker and good enough receiver that he should re-sign. He will get offers from other teams.

Dominique Franks

Franks is a good special teams player and could sub as a cornerback in nickel and dime packages. If Asante Samuel is released, like most think will happen, his addition as a fourth cornerback is important to the depth of this franchise.

Jonathan Babineaux

I am not sure how this will go. There are other free agent defensive tackles who will be available and the team will most definitely sign Peters. Babineaux has been a mainstay for many years – if he can take a limited role and accept less money, he is definitely someone this team will consider.

Robert McClain

Another defensive back who will be considered. He should be a nickel cornerback with this franchise and provide special teams help. He also is not a player who will break the bank, so bringing him back should be the right thing to do.